• Many members of your community are homeless; if you want to make a difference in your area, start by changing the way you think, giving your time, sharing your experience, donating money and inviting your sphere to join you.

Being at home is to be relaxed and comfortable, in harmony with one’s surroundings. As the familiar adage goes, “home is where the heart is.” Our emotional attachment is so evident that we become homesick when we are away for prolonged periods.

As a Realtor, I’ve had the great privilege of working side by side with my clients in their pursuit of “home” for 20 years. Whether the need was a starter home, a retirement home, downsizing or buying up, I’ve joyfully embarked on this journey with a great many families.

Many members of our communities are not as fortunate, and instead suffer the pain and discomfort of homelessness. What if we, the home experts, committed to giving back to our communities by helping them this Thanksgiving?

The Thanksgiving holiday affords us a special opportunity to reflect upon the innumerable joys bestowed upon us, and grants us a timely occasion to give back. As a community of real estate agents, who better to embark on a journey together to begin transforming the word “homeless” to “hopeful”?

Let’s begin the journey with these few simple steps:

Change the way you think, and start changing lives

We need to look into our hearts and change our thinking to remember that people experiencing homelessness are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters.

They should never be labeled exclusively by their current condition. Labeling someone as “transient” or “the homeless” blinds us from seeing the potential and possibilities within these precious people.

Looking the other way serves to dehumanize and diminish one’s value. Instead, smile and say hello. Then ask yourself, “What can I do?” At that moment, you have the potential to start changing lives.

The gift of time is priceless

I know very few real estate agents who aren’t always in a hurry or anxious to get to “the next thing.” Everyone has an important to-do list that is a mile long. But what if we were all inspired to pause and give the gift of our precious time to those who truly need it?

Instead of walking by, stop. Sit and have a simple conversation. Maybe even bring an extra cup of coffee to the bench.

Better yet, sign up at a local homeless organization to serve a meal to the men, women and children experiencing homelessness in your community.

Friendship and shared experiences go a long way

One of the most impactful keys to restoring a happy and healthy rhythm of life for a person experiencing homelessness is to connect them with a mentor who can help them rebuild their life with confidence.

Do you have a particular gift when it comes to budgeting? Are you skilled at applying for and interviewing for work? Consider opening up your calendar and sharing your talents in an authentic way.

Getting to the source of the problem

The condition of homelessness doesn’t just happen — a variety of sources can cause individuals to become trapped in this situation.

A number of hardworking organizations are deeply immersed in the complexities of these stories and are in a position to offer impactful support programs that help individuals overcome these devastating issues.

A great way to give back is to offer financial support to organizations that offer effective life-transforming programs, such as New Story, a non-profit working to create a world where no human being lives in survival mode.

It takes a village

Spurring great change as an individual is a challenge, but much can be accomplished by individuals working together in small ways.

Extend an invitation to your sphere to join our quest to give back this Thanksgiving season (and beyond) in minimizing homelessness.

May your Thanksgiving holiday be filled with both “thanks” and “giving.”

Dana Hall-Bradley is the owner/realtor of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Fine Living in Celebration, Florida. Connect with her on Facebook or Instagram.

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