Executive Director E-Newsletter
I often tell new volunteers at the WSCC the best thing they can do for our clients is to look them in the eye and talk with them. Handing out a plate of hot food and helping to choose clothing is great but even saying “You’re welcome” or “Have a good day” gives a person dignity. Engaging in further conversation is even better. But sometimes people wonder, “How do I engage with a homeless person?” It can be intimidating.
One of our regular volunteers, Anne Straitiff shared some insights she recently received from her son. Joe is a student at Loyola University Chicago and active in the Labre Ministry there. The Labre Ministry is a student-led homeless outreach ministry. Labre Ministries began at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland in 2002. It has since expanded to several universities and high schools in the U.S. Labre Ministry was founded at Loyola University Chicago in 2007 by Loyola students. Joe had the following thoughts on interacting with the poor and the homeless. I thought he had good advice and I share it with you below:
“Last week made me think a lot about the locational circumstances we find people in. We go out once a week and just run into people wherever they happen to be at that moment. Often, we refer to them by where they were when we saw them. “Alexander, the guy on S. Michigan” or “Shannon in front of Top Shop.” Or “Frank and Allie, next to water tower.” But I find one of the most interesting topics to discuss with the homeless is where they are from or where they are trying to go. People tend to form very strong ties to certain places. For example, I could talk your ear off for a disgusting amount of time about Cleveland. But, just because someone is on State Street for the 10 minutes that we pass through does not mean that’s where they’re from or where they are trying to be. So, if you are struggling to find a connection with someone you meet, ask where they’re from. You both took different routes to get to that one moment in time so you might as well learn about theirs.”
Thank you Joe for your thoughtful words. Thanks Anne for sharing!
As always, thank you for reading,