Help that Actually Helps
I was recently volunteering in the community when I noticed how hesitant some people are to receive help. I knew that part of the reason that some people were so reluctant to receive the help was because it was a relatively new outreach, and people weren’t used to the organization yet (I’ll get into why trust is key later). However, the whole experience made me reflect on the dynamics of offering support.
Our culture is so focused on hyper-individualism that we believe that we can work our way out of our need for help from others. People wear “not needing help from anyone” as a badge of honor, and we define maturity and adulthood as a place of no longer needing help whether it's financial, emotional, or relational.
When was the last time you needed help? Did you ask for it? Was it offered? Did you receive it? How did it make you feel to be in that position? Did you feel grateful? Did you feel guilty for needing it?
When people are in need, they’re often at their most vulnerable. The gap between being in need and getting what you need is a journey that’s often filled with the passivity of those who should care, disappointment from things not working out, grief over the situation, embarrassment over not being able to provide for yourself, and even anger over the circumstances that have left you in need.
Being in need can create a dynamic where the person being helped feels like they now owe the person helping them something. Unfortunately, those in need are also the easiest to exploit. It’s no wonder so many people are hesitant to accept help from others. They’re highly suspicious when the help doesn’t come attached with a litany of disclaimers.
Mostly, I think people are afraid that the help they need will later be turned into a weapon against them. Just getting what you need because you need it is too good to be true, right?
Here at SHARE we place an emphasis on establishing trust and offering help that doesn’t come with hidden agendas. It’s why we’ve been picking up trash on the same street since 2019 and offering our shower services in the same place at the same time on a (now) twice weekly basis. It’s also why we keep human dignity at the center of our work.
The truth is we all go through times of our lives where we will need help, which is why everyone deserves help that helps them to thrive.