Why Compassion is Key to Ending Homelessness

Throughout my life, I have become increasingly aware of the importance of unconditional love. Growing up, my parents reminded me they were there to support me almost daily. Now working in poverty alleviation, I see how often Americans living in poverty have no one in their lives to remind them they’re worthy. I see how much the reassurance of love can create a safety net that goes beyond dollars and fuels a sense of hope for the future.

Every day at HandUp, I interact with people who are struggling to afford the basics. I listen to their stories and try to understand where they need support the most. One essential need continues to be overlooked — having someone in their life to tell them they are worthy.

When connecting those who want to give to those who are in need, in addition to that initial financial contribution something much bigger is happening — a new network of support is being created for people who before had none. Receiving words of encouragement is providing hope and inspiration — and that this can be more valuable than donations.

From those working with social service organizations, working towards finding stability in their lives again, we hear feedback like:

“Your support has given me drive and motivation to move forward with my goal. Your contributions give me a new hope, which is the greatest gift of all.” - Danny
"It did so much for me to know that someone, a stranger, cared for me. The day that you funded my laptop, my wheels started turning and I just walked right to the Joint Apprenticeship Training Center and was given and passed an Oral Interview for the Fiber Optics training. I was accepted. Your support truly motivated me." - Royalton

What we are seeing is while access to financial resources is certainly a barrier to transitioning out of poverty, a community that shows love and encouragement is also a key element to poverty alleviation.

Aside from anecdotal evidence, research shows that positive thinking can make an impact in one’s life. First introduced in 1890, neuroplasticity argues that we can rewire our brains to have an improved experience of the world simply by thinking positive thoughts and surrounding ourselves with positive people. Our brains are hardwired for struggle and anxiety, but we can rewire them with positive messages. And that positivity can be the one thing that carries you through to the next day when you’ve hit bottom.

I believe that it is the combined, collaborative effort we make together as a community that counts. You never know when someone might be in their deepest, darkest place — unable to get out of bed or move, completely debilitated by the feeling of worthlessness. In those moments, a drop of positivity might help someone overcome the shadows.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I hope you will join me in making a difference by sharing your love with another human being who needs a message of kindness. For someone experiencing poverty or homelessness, knowing that other people care can be the one thing that carries them to the next day.

Visit handup.org/wordsofhope to learn how we’re making it easy to spread the love this week.