Thursday, December 12 2013, 12:06 PM MST
Web Exclusive: How to Approach a Homeless Person
Shauna Lake asks Pamela Atkinson how to approach a homeless person on the street.
: What would you tell people who don’t know how to approach a homeless person on the street, a panhandler, somebody who is asking for assistance?
PAMELA ATKINSON: I would tell them to volunteer at St. Vincent De Paul, to serve lunch there, to serve dinner there, where you get to meet the people who are homeless. I do not suggest that they reach out to people on the streets other than just saying hi and a smile, acknowledging that they exist. I do not suggest that they touch people. Some of our homeless friends who are mentally ill do not want to be touched, and unless you know the person, I just advocate for people moving on but just to say hi and smile and move on. With panhandlers, quite a few of them are not homeless people. I don’t see them in the shelter. I do not see them at St. Vincent De Paul. I don’t see them taking advantage of services. I never ever actually give money to anybody on the streets who’s asking for money.