When discussing the topic of homelessness, more often times than not it holds some type of negative connotation. As a society we often correlate it with laziness and assume that those who are homeless are in that situation due to their lack of motivation to find a job. These people are then shunned and instead of getting the proper assistance they need due to mere lack of opportunity, they are forced to remain stuck in their compromising circumstances. In most recent years however, there has been an enlarged effort to work alongside those who are homeless to better acclimate them into society within the working and personal realm.
Programs such as HandUp and the Oasis Book Club are prime examples of organizations who work to both alleviate homelessness as well as bridge the social gap between those who are and are not homeless in order to construct better relationships and provide more opportunities for those who need it most.
The program HandUp is an organization similar to the popular donation organization GoFundMe.
HandUp consists of both nonprofit organizations and individual partnerships that work to essentially raise money for those in need. Nonprofit organizations who pair up with HandUp work to raise money on a larger scale in order to supply the programs they hold at their available sites in order to better improver their services. Individual partnerships serve as a direct link between a person in need and a donation account whether its raising money to pay one’s utility bill, assist with housing or academic costs, in addition to much more.
What I appreciate most about HandUp is the way in which the program is based solely on reciprocity. As mentioned in Marianne Schneider and Gerald Corey’s book Becoming a Helper, one of the main ways to know if the helping profession is for you is determining whether reciprocity ranks high on one’s level of personal priority. Throughout the first chapter it is highlighted that in order to be an effective helper one needs to find in a balance in getting as much from both a client and session as the client does. This balance ensures a healthy mindset thus leading to a healthy career.
In addition to HandUp, programs such as the Oasis Book Club work to strengthen the theme of reciprocity within society as well as incorporating the development of new social ties. Oasis Book Club is a program pioneered by Peter Resnik and Ron Tibbetts that is more directly geared towards homelessness. It is a group that includes both homeless and housed persons discussing a variety of literature that they have read within the course of a couple weeks. Despite the socioeconomic differences between the attendees, their common goal of a rich conversation leads them to continue to return for more sessions. There is so much implemented here from the Corey’s book, Becoming a Helper, especially this idea of multicultural helping.
Multicultural helping is a key part of being an effective helper for it looks a multitude of variables including ethnographic, demographic, and status variables in order to get a well-rounded idea of a client’s demographic (Corey 103). Bridging the gap between homeless and housed persons allows one to not only get a better sense of where each respective group is coming from at the same time, catalyzing plenty of networking opportunities. It is more than likely that those coming from either side of the spectrum had their biases about one another before entering the Oasis Book Club however, upon inclusion, their commonality being the love for literature was able to blend the two worlds together.
Ultimately, I prefer the Oasis Book Club method over HandUp because despite the financial assistance HandUp provides, it lacks the person to person interaction that is needed in order to completely alleviate the problem of homelessness. Although homelessness can be attributed often times to lack of finances, for the most part it is lack of opportunity and resources that leave these people stranded. The book club’s method of bringing two worlds together again not only allows for the dismantling of a socioeconomic gap but it allows for those involved to see one another in a new light. Compassion is a catalyst for change so the more programs that sprout similar to the Oasis Book Club, the more understanding can be spread both domestically and potentially globally.