What Are Your Ideas?

by NWH Admin

As you participate in the Annual Night with the Homeless, we’re offering a lot of ideas to help you participate.

We bet you’re even more innovative, creative and resourceful than we are.  What ideas can you come up with?

  • What would you try if you knew it would succeed?  
  • What could your church, business, neighborhood or family do as a project together?
  • What’s one simple thing that you could do?
  • What relational gift could you give a homeless person — not just meeting their physical need, but also helping them feel seen, loved and listened to?

Share some ideas in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Ten Myths About Homelessness

by NWH Admin

Challenge Your Thinking

What are your assumptions about homelessness?  Like most issues, there’s far more to homelessness than the stereotype.

  1. Most homeless people are middle-aged men.
    For many, the word “homeless” conjures up images of scraggly men standing on street corners holding cardboard signs. The face of homelessness is changing. In fact, the fastest growing segments of the homeless population are women and families with children.
  2. Homeless people need to “just get a job”.
    Getting a job is a challenge for most people in these days, and incredibly difficult for a homeless person.  Most lack clean clothes, showers, transportation, a permanent address and phone number.  Others have a criminal past, learning disabilities and lack of education that holds them down.  Even if they find work, their low income often cannot sustain them.
  3. Homeless people are dangerous.
    Homelessness is often associated with drugs, alcohol, violence and crime.  So yes, life on the streets can be perilous for homeless men and women.  But very few crimes are committed by homeless people against those of us who try to help them.  At New Life Evangelistic Center, the attitude we see most often from homeless men and women is gratitude.
  4. Homeless people are lazy.
    Surviving on the street takes more work than we realize.  Homeless men and women are often sleep-deprived, cold, wet, and sick.  Their minds, hearts and bodies are exhausted.  Though help is available, they may have no idea where to begin navigating the maze of social service agencies and bureaucracy.  With no transportation and little money, they can spend all day getting to food and maybe an appointment before they need to search for a safe place to sleep.  And they do this while lugging their precious few possessions along with them in a bag or backpack.  It is not a life of ease.
  5. People are homeless by choice.
    No one starts life with a goal of becoming homeless.  People lose jobs and then housing.  Women run away to the street to escape domestic violence.  Many people have experienced significant trauma and simply cannot cope with life.  Others struggle with mental illness, depression or post-traumatic stress. Yes, poor choices can contribute to homelessness.  But outside circumstances strongly influence those choices.
  6. If homeless people wanted to, they could pull themselves out of it.
    Once a man or woman loses a job or a home, getting those things back can feel nearly impossible.  Imagine trying to get a job when you have no address to put on a resume, no phone number, no shower and no clean-pressed clothes.  Often, things like legal issues, criminal history, mental illness, physical and emotional health hinder progress even more.
  7. Providing food and shelter only enables people to remain homeless.
    Food and shelter are essentials for life.  By offering these and other outreach services, like restrooms and mail service, we build relationships with people in need.  Then we’re able to offer them something more through our recovery programs, like counseling, addiction recovery, emotional healing, spiritual guidance, education, life skills and job training.
  8. If we provide sufficient affordable housing, homelessness will end.
    Putting a roof over the head of a deeply hurting person will not heal emotional wounds, break addiction, create relational stability or establish healthy life skills.  Housing can help people who are homeless due to poverty.  But it can be a shallow and temporary solution for the many people who are homeless because they are unable to function in a “normal” life.
  9. Homelessness will never happen to me.
    Talk to the hundreds of homeless men and women we serve each day and they’ll tell you that they never intended or expected to become homeless.  They’ve had solid jobs, houses and families.  But at some point, life fell apart.  They are desperate for a way back home.
  10. Homelessness will never end.
    Many U.S. cities have established ambitious goals with 10-year plans to end homelessness.  While these plans to provide housing and better centralized services to homeless people are important in reducing the scope and duration of homelessness, they will not completely eliminate it everywhere for all time.  But homelessness does end—one life at a time.  With your help, we continue to restore the lives of hurting men, women and children every day.

Ten Questions You Can Ask a Homeless Person

by NWH Admin

Talk to a homeless person.  Here are 10 conversation starters.

  1. What’s Your Name?
    Treat the person as you would anyone else.  Introduce yourself and learn his/her name.
  2. Are You Homeless?
    Don’t automatically assume that a panhandler or person sitting on the sidewalk is homeless.  They may have a place to stay, but choose to panhandle due to lack of finances.  Even if they’re not homeless, they could have a significant need.
  3. Where Are You From?
    A natural bridge into learning someone’s story is to find out where they’re from, where they’ve been, how they got here and how long they’ve lived in the area.  If they are new to the area, you might be able to give them helpful information about resources they could use.
  4. What Do You Need Most Right Now?
    The best way to help is to find the point of greatest need.  Is it food?  Shelter?  Sickness?  Transportation?  Clothing?  Addiction treatment?
  5. Can I Buy You Something To Eat Or Drink?
    Offer to buy a meal or a cup of coffee and eat together.  A meal can ease the flow of conversation.
  6. How Did You Become Homeless?
    The answers will vary widely.  Be prepared to hear some painful stories.
  7. How Do You Survive?
    You might be surprised to find out where people sleep, how they make money and where they get food.
  8. What Would You Want Other People To Know About You?
    A question like this gives the opportunity to go deeper.
  9. What Do You Hope For Your Future?
    Homeless men and women are often short on hope.  Help them envision a brighter future for themselves.
  10. If You Could Have Three Wishes, What Would They Be?
    This is a classic question used by Mark Horvath in his InvisiblePeople.tv interviews.  Watch a few of his videos to see how easy it is to talk to a homeless man or woman.

There are plenty of other good questions and conversation starters out there.  What ones would you add?

Ten Tips for a Successfull Collection Drive

by NWH Admin

Holding a collection drive or fundraising event might seem overwhelming.  Here are a few tips that can help make it easier, fun and successful.

  1. Keep It Simple
    Focus on just one type of item to collect.  Instead of a full-fledged clothing drive, collect just socks.  Instead of a food drive, collect just canned vegetables.  This will help keep your messaging simple.  People who want to participate won’t have to hesitate because of a tough decision about — or having to remember — what to purchase.  Of course, check with New Life Evangelistic Center ahead of time about what items they need.
  2. Make It Easy
    People are more likely to help if the action is relatively quick, convenient and easy to do.  They may not have time to purchase items from a store, so allow them to simply donate money — you’ll do the shopping for them.  Provide pre-addressed, pre-stamped giving envelopes that make it easy for them to drop a check in the mail.  Send an email that allows them to donate online at www.newlifeevangelisticcenter.org right away.
  3. Don’t Go Solo
    Chances are, you’re interested in doing a collection drive because you love managing projects or you love motivating people.  Whichever type you are, find someone with the other strength to help you.  Your project will have greater success if you have a good up-front cheerleader persona and someone who loves checklists making sure the details happen.  You’ll likely have more fun and success if you don’t try to do it alone.
  4. Use The Power Of Friend Multiplication
    People are more likely to give to a fundraiser not because there is a need, but because a friend asked them to give.  Focus your advertising on items that challenge / empower people to invite their friends.  Instead of asking people to donate a can of food, ask them to ask 10 friends to donate a can of food.  That puts the power of multiplication to work.  Motivate participation by rewarding the top influencers who got the most friends to participate.
  5. Ask For Sponsorships
    Ask local businesses to help out.  They can be a collection site.  They can offer discounts on the food or clothing items you’re asking people to collect.  They can provide coffee or food for your volunteers.  They can donate prize items for your top influencers.  Offer the business something in return, like public mention or logo placement on your advertising materials.
  6. Craft Your Sales Pitch
    Before you ask for participation, have your pitch well-rehearsed.  This can be a helpful formula:A – Grab their ATTENTION. (There’s a crisis in healthcare!)
    I – Add INTEREST. (50% of kids will get cancer.)
    D – Stimulate DESIRE. (But we’ve found a cure.)
    A – Call to ACTION. (If we have your help, we’ll get the cure much faster.)
  7. Talk About Life Change
    You’re not asking people to donate an item, you’re asking them to change a life.  Phrase your language that way.  “Would you help us give hope to a homeless man or woman?  Your donation of $10.00 will buy 10 pair of socks.  That’s 10 opportunities for us to meet and talk with a person who is hurting and looking for a way back home.”
  8. Take It Online
    People expect to be able to interact with you online.  These options are easier than ever and completely free.  Set up a free website or blog using Blogger and WordPress.  Create donation badge through Network for Good.  Upload a video to YouTube.  Share photos on Flickr.  Make all your content easy for people to share on their Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Overwhelmed by the techy stuff?  Recruit a teenager to set things up for you.
  9. Make It Hands-On
    Your goal in the collection drive should be bigger than getting people to donate.  Get them to care about the cause.  One church collected thousands of pounds of food, then asked all the participants to help load it into eight semi-trucks.  The task could have been done faster with forklifts.  But nothing could beat the emotional impact of hundreds of people forming a line and passing food boxes across the parking lot.  As they touched each box, they knew it would go to feed a family in need.  There’s something powerful and tangible about hands-on participation.
  10. Celebrate
    From the start of your planning, include ideas of how you’ll wrap things up.  Throw a party for volunteers and donors.  Collect e-mail and postal addresses along the way so you can properly thank all your champions.  When you drop off your donated items to the charity, take lots of photos and video to upload to the web.  People love to see the connection between their donation and the people it will benefit.  The better you thank and inspire your participants this time, the more likely they will be to help out in the future.

Ten Places Homeless People Sleep

by NWH Admin

Visit a Homeless Organization
(Credit to www.Change.org)

Have you ever toured a homeless shelter? Take the time to do so. Ask good questions about other places homeless people sleep in your city.

Living without a home of your own is a devastating experience. But sleeping without a home is downright difficult. Some of these places receive media attention. Others may surprise you. But all of these overnight accommodations are completely unacceptable for regular human habitation.

  1. Storage Units
    Many have called storage units the modern-day cardboard box. Sure, they’re not ideal, but they’re dry, secure and beat the dangers of the street. And they offer a way for people to keep some of their belongings rather than abandon them or have them stolen.
  2. Cars
    Living out of a vehicle may seem like a bearable solution to losing one’s home. But when your home is on four wheels, it’s impossible to sit still. Each day, you must be on the go to evade authorities and the expensive citations for illegal parking or sleeping in a vehicle (Yes, there are ordinances against this.). You sleep with one eye open; you can never be perfectly at ease. And the nomadic lifestyle makes it difficult for homeless organizations to stay in touch to provide help.
  3. Motels
    Cheap motels became the newest thing in subsidized housing and the de facto shelter for families affected by the recession in 2009. For families, it’s an affordable alternative to shelter and safer than the streets. But with cramped rooms, unsafe conditions, and little space for cooking, it is far from a good alternative to safe, decent housing. And when money runs out, families are back on the street.
  4. Tent Cities
    Since the economy has been hurting, homeless encampments have sprung up in communities across the U.S. Some – like Sacramento, Providence, or Nickelsville – garner lots of media attention; others go quietly unnoticed. As diverse the residents and characteristics of these communities may be, they all have on thing in common: they are cloaked in controversy. St. Louis’ tent cities are Hopeville and Dignity Harbour.
  5. Parks
    After walking all day or night, it’s tempting for a homeless man or woman to stretch out on the lawn or a bench for some rest. Parks are open to the public and a decent place to get a nap during the day. But sleeping in the park at night is usually interrupted by police asking offenders to move along.
  6. Streets
    While it may seem counter-intuitive that a homeless person would choose to stay on the streets rather than in a homeless shelter, there are understandable reasons for doing so. Shelters tend to attract people who are chronically homeless and addicted. This can be frightening to someone newly homeless or to those who struggle with mental illness or social phobias.
  7. Foreclosed Houses
    Across the country, hundreds of thousands of foreclosed homes are boarded up, idle and empty. At the same time, homelessness has been on the rise and the need for decent affordable housing is as great as ever. It comes as no surprise that homeless men and women choose to become squatters in vacant homes.
  8. Abandoned Buildings
    Much like the situation with foreclosed homes, there’s no shortage of empty warehouses and other business buildings where homeless men and women take shelter.
  9. Couches
    When homelessness strikes, friends and relatives are often the first place of refuge. Homeless families and individuals sleep on couches, in garages/sheds and backyard tents. Although they are technically homeless, they are unseen and left uncounted in an official homeless census – until the hospitality wears out. Then, they end up on the street.
  10. We Don’t Know
    For all of those homeless individuals whose unfortunate living situations are documented, recorded, and broadcast to the public, there are hundreds more who remain anonymous. The methodology for finding and counting homeless people is imperfect; we simply do not find everyone.

Ten Items a Homeless Person Could Use

by NWH Admin

The following items can be placed in quart- or gallon-size Zip-Lock bags.

If you’ve ever been approached by a homeless man or woman, you may have felt uncomfortable about how to respond when asked for money.  We recommend anticipating these opportunities.  Make some care kits in advance to keep in your vehicle.  These can be a good alternative for situations when giving money isn’t the best option.

  1. Socks
    Homeless men and women spend a lot of time on their feet. A fresh pair of clean, dry socks can feel like heaven on tired, soggy feet.  Throw in some band-aids to help ease the pain of blisters.
  2. Reusable Water Bottle
    Water brings relief, especially in hot weather. But instead of bottled water, consider a reusable bottle as an eco-friendly option.
  3. Lotion
    Lotion and lip balm are often welcome items. Anti-bacterial lotions can help when soap and water aren’t available for washing hands.
  4. Soap / Shampoo
    Save the small unopened soap bars and shampoo bottles from your hotel visits. Their compact travel size is convenient and light weight. Larger soap bars are great too. But if you’re packing soap in a care kit, be aware that its scent can be absorbed by packaged crackers, making for a less-than-tasty snack.
  5. Toothpaste / Toothbrush
  6. Towel / Washcloth
    Showers aren’t easy to come by for homeless men and women.  A towel and washcloth are helpful for washing as best they can in a restroom.
  7. Comb / Brush / Razor
    Contrary to stereotypes, most homeless men and women prefer to stay clean and well-groomed.
  8. Snacks
    Throw in some packets of nuts, crackers, dried fruit, trail mix, granola bars, breakfast bars, instant noodles or other light-weight, quick snacks.
  9. Resource Guide
    St. Louis has a variety of services available to homeless men and women that they may not know about. You can request of a list of resources in St. Louis to hand out.  If you’re in another city, do some research to see if a similar list is available.
  10. Encouragement
    All the items above are helpful, but the most meaningful part of a care kit is the opportunity for a conversation and friendship. Your smile and offer of help could be the encouragement a homeless man or women needs to make it through another day.

Ten Things You Can Donate

by NWH Admin
  1. Your Car, Truck or Bus
    Many non-profits have vehicle donation programs which support their work. New Life Evangelistic Center accepts vehicle donations at 1411 Locust Street, St. Louis, Missouri. Donate your old vehicle, receive tax deduction benefits and enjoy knowing that you’re helping people in need.
  2. Your Time
    Volunteer to help serve meals, answer phones, prepare mailings, teach job skills, tutor in math or writing, clean facilities or sort donated food / clothing. Many other volunteer opportunities are available. Call Dulce at (314) 881-3218 for more information.
  3. Fresh Meat and Produce
    New Life Evangelistic Center hands out sandwiches daily and also serves meals on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Homeless organizations like us that serve food are constantly in need of fresh meat, produce, bread and dairy products to feed hungry men, women and children.
  4. Non-Perishable Food
    Non-perishable food items are great for their ability to be stored until needed. Organizations that serve a lot of food especially benefit from bulk quantities and larger (#10) size cans of fruits and vegetables.
  5. Clothes
    Chances are, your closet could use a good cleaning. Donate clothes that are still in good condition to a local shelter. New socks and undergarments usually greatly needed too.
  6. Furniture
    New Life Evangelistic Center can use donated beds and furniture. They may be given to men and women who are moving off the street and into permanent housing or used in our shelter. Donated beds would allow us to increase our shelter capacity.
  7. Financial Support
    Money is an obvious need for non-profit organizations. Make it a tradition to give a special gift during the holidays. Donate part of your job bonus or windfall. Leave a legacy gift such as an annuity. Become a monthly donor to provide support all-year long.
  8. Your Birthday or Special Occasion
    In lieu of gifts, ask friends and family to give to the charity of your choice. New Life Evangelistic Center allows you to easily set up an automatic monthly donation using your checking account or credit card.
  9. Your Partnership
    If you work for a business or organization, there’s a multitude of ways you can support New Life Evangelistic Center. Set aside space for us to display our materials. Donate room in your print publications as free ad space. Offer a matching challenge to your employees who will donate money to New Life Evangelistic Center. Allow employees a few hours to volunteer while on the job. Be a sponsor of one of our fund raising events.
  10. Your Influence
    If you believe in the work of New Life Evangelistic Center, spread the word to your friends. Share a link on Facebook, Twitter or a blog. Talk about why you volunteer or donate. Rally friends and family to volunteer or participate in an event.


Ten Ways to Help a Homeless Person

by NWH Admin
  1. Be Prepared
    There’s many ways to help a homeless man or woman.  Often, we fail to act simply because we’re caught off guard.  In most cases, you’ll have better success if you’ve planned ahead and are ready to meet the need.
  2. Engage The Person
    Homeless people are people.  Smile and say hello.  Go out of your way to approach them.  Acknowledging them shows respect and gives dignity.
  3. Ask Questions
    Start a conversation by asking questions.  Learn where they are from.  Ask their name.  Inquire about what they need most.  (Look for our 10 QUESTIONS YOU CAN ASK A HOMELESS PERSON.)
  4. Think Before Giving Money
    Opinions vary on whether it is best to give money to a panhandler.  Some have experimented with giving pre-paid credit cards.  In most cases, meeting the person’s actual immediate need for food or clothing might be better than giving cash.
  5. Offer A Care Kit
    Keep care packages in your vehicle that include essentials.  See our list of 10 ITEMS A HOMELESS PERSON COULD USE.
  6. Offer Public Transit Tickets
    In the St. Louis area, the Metro public transit system can be a convenient way for homeless men and women to get to appointments and resources.  Consider buying tickets in advance to keep with you.  Hand the person an address list of the organizations where they can get help.
  7. Offer Food Gift Cards / Certificates
    Food is the most common need panhandlers request money for.  Be ready to offer gift certificates to restaurants in the area.  Offer to sit and eat a meal with the person as a way to get to know them.
  8. Offer A Meal Voucher
    Many organizations, churches and shelters offer free meals to all comers 7 days a week.  Research the free meal options available in your city.
  9. Point Them To Resources
    St. Louis has a variety of services available to homeless men and women that they may not know about. You can request of a list of resources in St. Louis to hand out.  If you’re in another city, do some research to see if a similar list is available.
  10. Offer To Pray
    If you’re inclined, offer to pray for the person.  Ask what they would like you to pray for.  Your prayers will be most appreciated if you’ve taken the time to listen to the person and have offered tangible help.

Registraton for 2016

by NWH Admin

Please take a moment to register for Night with the Homeless!

If you have attended the Night with the Homeless events in previous years, we would like to hear from you in the comments below!

The Night with the Homeless is an educational event to teach the community about the plight of the homeless by direct interaction. This event also presents attendees with opportunities to get involved in helping the homeless. Attendees will actually experience a taste of homelessness by spending the evening while in a safe environment, providing a whole new level of understanding and compassion for our fellow citizens who face this trial every day. The best we can do for those who are less fortunate is to speak out for them, to remind the rest of the world that they exist–that they are human beings who deserved better and that their pain is real.

The Night with the Homeless is an educational event; and as such, this event is for personal awareness and development. It can be a serious, sobering and very helpful experience. Some past participants have found that it was even a life-changing experience.

In addition to experiencing homelessness at the Night with the Homeless, you can help the homeless by getting sponsored for the event. All proceeds will help fund job training programs, upgrades to our shelter at 1411 Locust Street, and projects to bring awareness to homelessness. Our building needs major repairs and renovations to continue to provide a comfortable place for hundreds of homeless that call our shelter home every day. We will provide you with sponsorship forms and information about the event so that you can talk to your friends and family about sponsoring you. You can create a personalized Night with the Homeless Webpage to help you gather sponsors to make a difference. You can also help by collecting blankets, coats and care kits to hand out to the homeless.

WHO: Community members, students, families, groups…and you!

WHAT: An evening program to raise awareness of homelessness and funds to help the men, women, and children at NLEC.

WHY: The purpose of the Night with the Homeless is:

  • To familiarize and sensitize persons with the realities and hardships of homelessness
  • To see a different side of life
  • To gain firsthand knowledge of the growing crisis of homelessness. You will undoubtedly be struck by how many homeless people look just like you, tearing away at the myth of who constitute the homeless.
  • To become aware of community attitudes toward homeless people.
  • To become familiar with the social services network for homeless people, and how homeless people survive.

WHEN: The Night with the Homeless will be held on October 28, 2016 – Activities will include a rally, tours of the shelter, live music, care kit station, Experience Stations, Winter Patrol, a telethon and a prayer service at midnight. If you haven’t requested a Sponsorship Packet prior to the event, you can pick up one and bring it back to the main event. Registration starts at 6:00 p.m.

WHERE: 1411 Locust St., St. Louis, MO

Eventbrite - 2016 Night with the Homeless

Success for the Night with the Homeless!!!

by NWH Admin

We are so thankful for ALL the support, volunteers, donations, love and friends who helped us and came out to support our 24th Annual Night with the Homeless event!  Even though it was cold the Lord blessed us in music, laughter, prayers and food!

A special thanks to our gospel group God’s Chosen for an awesome time in praise and worship and to Luke Welchel and his group traveling from Springfield to help make this event even more successful. We were able to help so many people with the items donated for winter patrol and through your prayers and God’s will, we hope to do it bigger and better next year! If you would like to know about more volunteer opportunities here at New Life, please contact Nichole Booker at 314-881-3210 for more information.

Join us next year for the 25th Annual Night with the Homeless!

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