Does the program foster relationships between those giving and those receiving?
When applicants for help a century ago were truly alone, volunteers worked one-on-one to become, in essence, new family members. Charity volunteers a century ago usually were not assigned to massive food-dispensing tasks but were given the narrow but deep responsibility of making a difference in one life over several years. Kindness and firmness were both essential: The magazine American Hebrew in 1898 told of how one man was sunk into dependency, but a volunteer "with great patience convinced him that he must earn his living"; soon he did and regained the respect of his family and community. Similarly, a woman had become demoralized, but "for months she was worked with, now through kindness, again through discipline, until finally she began to show a desire to help herself."
Today, when an unmarried pregnant teenager is dumped by her boyfriend and abandoned by angry parents who refuse to be reconciled, she needs a haven, a room in a home with a volunteer family. When a single mom at the end of her rope cannot take care of a toddler, he should be placed quickly for adoption where a new and permanent bonding can take place, rather than rotated through a succession of foster homes. Some failed programs spend a lot of money but are too stingy in what is truly important: treating people as human beings made in God's image, not as lesser creatures.