Helping Hurts

As I look around, I see food banks, clothing banks, and other places that hand out services to help those in need. If we have so many of these places helping, why do we see the same amount of people, if not more, seeking these services? As a society, we see an issue or a problem, and we are quick to throw as much money as we can to solve that issue, thinking we are doing good. We look for a short-term fix without looking at the root of the problem or situation and start fixing them. If I am a doctor and someone comes in with a broken leg, I don’t put a band-aid on it and let them move on their way. I take an X-ray, evaluate the problem, place a cast on the area, and follow up with them regularly to ensure they are getting healthy. This process is no different than what we are doing with those who face homelessness. I see that we are giving out clothes and food to those in need, and they keep coming back, week after week, month after month—nothing seems to change. Yes, it feels good as a person, an agency, or even a country that we are “helping” those who are hungry, but we are creating dependency.

We need to start building capacity with our guests without creating dependency. I am not saying short term relief is terrible. It is necessary to get the ball moving. In this current moment, we need to move forward with short-term, immediate ease, and a long-term, sustainable plan for the future. We need to help people weather this economic storm, as quickly as possible—to empower them to return to the workforce. This is the crisis of our lifetime. Let’s prepare families to survive the immediate needs of today and ensure that they can get back to work and provide for their families tomorrow. Throughout the Bible, I remind you that God shares with us about generations and the importance of remembering to think of the next generation. May we respond with courageous compassion and wisdom in both the relief and the rebuilding. If we see the ease remain for an extended period, then we are working against the purpose of long-term transformation. As we rally and dispense desperately needed relief, the challenge is to respond to immediate needs while simultaneously preparing for the recovery and rebuilding. 

It’s a time to navigate the delicate relationship between relief and development, not as two separate activities, but as one unified and long-term response. If we aren’t developing a plan for years down the road to help jump-start economies and strengthen communities if we aren’t investing in entrepreneurs, those facing homelessness will remain stuck. We will not be able to make a change in their lives. Join Keystone Mission, and let’s stop putting band-aids to broken bones. 




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  3. Volunteer at Keystone Mission! E-mail or call (570) 871–4795 ext. 408 and speak with Matthew.