Learn How to Engage the Homeless at Don’t Walk By
The people living on the street whom we encounter daily here in New York—the man wrapped up in a blanket on the sidewalk, the woman weaving in and out of packed subway cars with a cup—can stir up conflicting feelings inside of us.
We feel annoyed, or guilty, or sad, or frustrated. The problem of homelessness is so huge, so broad-reaching…how are we supposed to approach it?
New Yorkers are in desperate need of a practical way to serve our homeless brothers and sisters, and that’s why we at Hope for New York are so excited about this month’s Don’t Walk By outreach.
Don’t Walk By is an annual collaboration of faith-based organizations that are committed to serving the homeless (including Hope for New York affiliates like The Bowery Mission, NYC Relief, and NYC Rescue Mission). Hope for New York has supported this movement for the past six years by recruiting volunteers and providing financial support.
Three Saturdays in February (8, 15, 22) and the first Saturday in March, hundreds of Don’t Walk By volunteers will canvass Manhattan on a search for the homeless, offering the people they encounter care kits and an invitation to return to a nearby church for food and medical assistance.
But, beyond looking to meet immediate and practical needs, Don’t Walk By volunteers will engage people living on the street as friends—learning their names, listening to their stories, and praying for them.
“As a total extrovert, I wasn’t nervous about approaching someone on the street—especially since we had excellent help and services to offer as provided by the hospitality team back at the base church,” said Elizabeth Elliott, a volunteer from last year’s downtown outreach. “But committing to walk and engage with the homeless made me think about the future: how would stopping this time, instead of walking by, change the way I commute everyday? Could I go back to putting on blinders to the need in my own neighborhood?”
Each Redeemer congregation has a designated Don’t Walk By outreach: Downtown on February 8, East Side on February 15, and West Side on February 22 and March 1. You can sign up as an individual, with a group of friends, or with your community group at hfny.org/DWB.
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