A View of Homelessness in Memphis. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Thomas R Machnitzki)

It’s a knee-jerk response when panhandler approaches, asking for money. Maybe you reach in your pocket, maybe you don’t, but either way, you’re trying to keep moving because you know this person needs more than just financial help. And maybe you want to help even more, but you don’t know where to start.

While people who live on the streets only ask for money for food (or alcohol or drugs – just keeping it 100), they are in need of much more. Many need not just shelter, but medical attention, drug rehab and jobs. Which brings us to Project Homeless Connect. From a press release:

Project Homeless Connect – Memphis is scheduled for Thursday, October 11th at the Cook Convention Center from 9 a.m. until  p.m. Community volunteers (over the age of 18) and service providers are encouraged to register online at www.cafth.org. Training is required for all volunteers who participate in this life-changing day of service.

Widely recognized as one of the largest service opportunities of its kind, Project Homeless Connect – Memphis places many of the services and resources that are needed to exit homelessness under one roof. In a number of ways, Project Homeless Connect – Memphis connects people to purpose! Held in conjunction with the Mayors’ Action Plan to End Homelessness, this event makes housing referrals, employment services, veterans’ services, health evaluations and screenings, hair care for men and women, breakfast, lunch and donations of clothing and toiletry items, and other services available. Since its inception in 2010, this event has served thousands of homeless individuals throughout the mid-South. Community Alliance for the Homeless, Inc. extends an opportunity for concerned citizens of Memphis and Shelby County to help us make a difference in the lives of persons experiencing homelessness in Memphis/Shelby County.

Each participant will also receive a care bag which contains socks, travel-sized grooming products, bottled water, hygiene products, and more.

Event sponsors include the City of Memphis, Shelby County Government, Federal Express, Buckman Technologies, and Holiday Ham. For more information regarding this event, please contact Herman Dickey at (901) 527-1302, ext. 310.

I think maybe the most important aspect of an event like this is that it can remind us to look beyond appearances and see the humanity in people without homes. At minimum, maybe it makes us a little more grateful for our own blessings. But hopefully, it stirs something in us to help in a bigger way.