Empathy and compassion are core tenets of humanity. They’re evident in the life of Jesus not only from His words, but perhaps more importantly from His actions. The poor, the sick, little children, the mocked, the scorned by society. These were the comfort zone of the one after whom we aim to model our lives, and yet they can seem foreign and fearsome to us.
We become shocked when we, who have grown up never having to fear for our loved ones’ safety or wonder how we’ll fill their empty bellies, witness acts of cruelty being visited upon others. If we perceive violence or pain, our first instinct is to jump in and rescue. Be the hero, save the day. In our minds, we are all the type to step in to trip the bandit getting away with someone’s handbag before they get too far out of reach.
And yet the homeless receive our apathy at best and our scorn or annoyance at worst. Their need offends us, when in reality, there but for the grace of God go I. As with all things in life, we mistrust what we do not understand, and our goal with this blog is to talk through misconceptions about the homeless and the true struggles they face.
But talking only gets us so far in solving a problem. First we talk and understand, then we act. Once we are made aware of this problem, what can we do to help?
There are two ways to help: financially, and physically. For some of us, volunteering in person just isn’t feasible at this point in life. Maybe you’re a stay at home parent with small children and no childcare, maybe you’re unable to leave your house due to health concerns, or maybe this is just an insanely busy season in your life and you want to be there in person but you just can’t right now. Donations are always welcome, and spreading the message of the Dream Center and Charlotte’s homeless is a great way to stand in solidarity with those less fortunate than you.
When you give to the Dream Center, you’re giving to all the great things that the Dream Center is doing in Charlotte. On Sundays, we transform The King’s Kitchen restaurant into the Restoring Place Church. Our doors are open to all, and attendees engage in fellowship through worship and Biblical teaching while children play in the children’s ministry.
On weekday afternoons, the Kings Kitchen closes from 2pm to 5pm and opens to the homeless and low-income community members for a bible study where all are welcome.
We also provide daily care through a discipleship program. This is really the heartbeat of our ministry. It’s a year long program designed to provide participants with upward mobility, accountability, structure, support, and job training skills.
If giving financially is what you are able to do, then you’re contributing towards furthering these great causes and making real changes on the streets of Charlotte.
For many of us, we could schedule time to volunteer if we set our minds to it, but we find ourselves only hesitating before we take the plunge into showing up for those in need and being bodies in the street to show love and support to our sisters and brothers in Charlotte. Volunteer! Show up! Nothing is quite as fulfilling as helping people. And why is that? What is it about giving of ourselves that makes us feel good in return?
According to psychologists, we get a “helper’s high” when we volunteer. This excerpt from Psychology Today has some staggering information about the benefits of volunteering:
“Giving help to others protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease. People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have an impressive 44 percent lower likelihood of dying—and that’s after sifting out every other contributing factor, including physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, marital status, and many more. This is a stronger effect than exercising four times a week or going to church; it means that volunteering is nearly as beneficial to our health as quitting smoking!”
Forbes magazine also talks about volunteering as it benefits the person with a busy schedule. For instance, “volunteering your experience helps build your experience,” and “volunteering your love makes you feel more love.”
Scientists and intellectuals in the modern day aren’t onto some new idea that we’re just realizing. The Bible is rife with parables and admonitions to help those in need, and give to those who have less than you.
“Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” – Matthew 5:42.
In our post entitled “What Is Homelessness,” we talked a little bit about the homeless population in Charlotte. If this is your first time checking us out, be sure to head over to that post to read a little bit about the demographics of the people that we’re working with; the people with whom we want to partner so that they can succeed in life just as we succeed in life.
But where do YOU come in? Where does the Dream Center need you? Forming relationships with people and meeting them where they’re at in life is one of our main passions. When you get to know people and visit with them on a regular basis, they feel more comfortable opening up to you and making their needs known. In this way we reach out to people with our foundational Adopt-A-Block program. Our goal is to bring hope and transformation for Charlotte’s most at-risk neighborhoods through consistent and dedicated home visits, relationship building and physical acts of service.
If reaching out and forming real relationships sounds like the thing for you, and you’re available Saturdays from 11am to 1pm, click this link and start filling out your information so we can get in touch with you about meeting up on a Saturday and diving right in.
Saturdays don’t work for you? On Friday evenings, we coordinate volunteers in two shifts to make and distribute chili cheese dogs to our neighbors living on the streets. Street ministry aims to meet physical needs of those experiencing chronic homelessness, and again build relationships with people so that all of our lives can affect and receive the greatest change.
What about Sundays? Do you have a group that wants to help out on a Sunday morning? Following services at Restoring Place Church, volunteers feed a free sit-down meal to homeless and low-income church members.
For more information on Friday street ministry, the discipleship program, weekday Bible study, Restoring Place Church and the Daily Care Discipleship program, head to the Outreach page of our website.
Get involved because a safer city for one of us is a safer city for all of us. Get involved because people out there need you. But most importantly, get involved because it’s the right thing to do.
“What We Get When We Give” Psychology Today
“5 Surprising Benefits of Volunteering” Forbes
“How Close is Charlotte to Ending Homelessness” Charlotte Magazine