A few days ago, our Founder and CEO Libby Hikind parked her car in the Best Buy parking lot. Across the lot, sitting on the curb under a tree, were two men. One appeared to be homeless. He was eating dinner while the other, who seemed to be an outreach worker or minister, listened and offered counsel.
Following that event, our CEO coincidently clicked a video on her Facebook feed that she later shared with her staff. Libby wanted to see if we had the same pre-conceived assumptions and if we would be surprised by the content.
After speaking with my CEO and watching the video, I wanted to write this article.
Let me run you through a brief situation. You just left Walmart, the trunk of your car is bogged down with groceries, and you reach the stoplight just outside the parking lot. The light flashes to yellow as the car ahead of you zooms through the intersection. You make a safe stop as the light turns red.
As you take in your surroundings, considering what you’ll eat for dinner, you catch a glimpse of a man with a sign standing on the sidewalk. He is wearing tattered clothing and his sign reads “Hungry and Homeless. Anything Helps.” He makes his way to the driver’s side of your car. You might give him the spare change in your cup holder or an apple from the bag of produce sitting in your passenger seat, but are you thinking:
- What bad decisions did he make to put himself in this situation?
- Why doesn’t he get a job? (He looks able bodied.)
- Is he mentally ill—should I not have rolled down my window?
- Will he spend my hard-earned money on drugs or alcohol?
- Does he have more money than me—is this all an act?
In a heart-to-heart discussion with her staff, Libby Hikind shared the following:
“We have all seen the nightly news video of a homeless woman, who received countless donations from generous people, take off her wig and dirty clothing in her BMW and drive to the mall to shop-till-she-drops. We’ve seen homeless people walk into the liquor store to buy a pint with the few dollars they were given. But should we really consider all homeless persons to be fakers, drunks and cheats?
When I saw this video, I said to myself ‘Here goes. Finally, the stereotype cracked wide open!!!’”
Be careful with assumptions and generalizations. They are fraught with false pretenses, misjudgment and horrible stereotypes. This video puts some of those negative feelings at arm’s length and suggests a new, generous mindset that we need to create programs for these uprooted men and women.
Is it not better to give just in case someone really is hungry, destitute and/or homeless? Doesn’t the Almighty credit us for our good intentions and positive thoughts? (Libby Hikind, Founder and CEO of GrantWatch)
Don’t let negative stereotypes of homeless individuals stop you from helping those who desperately require your assistance. GrantWatch strives to help people in need and provides a multitude of grants to help you spread necessary support as well.
Grants ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 to nonprofits in Arizona, California, Idaho, Utah, and Washington in communities served by the funding source for programs that support the needs of vulnerable children and families, and provide basic needs like food, housing, healthcare, safety, and education.
Deadline: Ongoing – Grant requests will be reviewed quarterly.
Grants to USA military service members and veterans with disabilities that require special housing adaptations.
About the Author: Kayli Tomasheski is a Copy Editor for GrantNews. Libby Hikind is the Founder and CEO of GrantWatch and its various divisions.