Get Street Smart. Know Who to Call

Posted Feb 3rd, 2020 in Feat of the Week

In 2017, the Municipal Service District (MSD) was established in Downtown Wilmington to provide an enhanced level of services to residents and business owners within the 70-block district. One of the services provided within the MSD is an Ambassador program to help make Downtown Wilmington a cleaner and safer place for people to live, work, shop, dine and play.

In terms of safety, the Ambassadors provide extra sets of eyes and ears to assist business owners and community members address concerns within the center city. During their daily foot patrols, the Ambassadors attend to and report any issues they encounter.

One concern is the plight of people who have fallen on hard times. These individuals may lack the financial resources for food and may have no place to call home. Sometimes, they may approach you for money or try and engage you in a conversation and ask you for help. It is understandable to feel compassion and want to help.

Panhandling is legal so long as it is not done aggressively; however, giving money to individuals is often not the best long-term solution. It is better to say, “No” or “Sorry” and call an Ambassador at 910-524-3600. Ambassadors can assess the situation and direct individuals to the appropriate resources. A variety of services are available locally to help people in need. Details can be found on the Wilmington Street Sheet. Many of these organizations rely on donations to fund vital services. Donating directly to them through the Have A Heart – Give Smart program will provide long-term solutions for people in need.

Occasionally, individuals you encounter may become aggressive. This can be a result of mental illness, drug or alcohol abuse or other factors. One in five adults in the U.S. experiences a mental illness and approximately 26 percent of homeless adults live with serious mental illness.

When you come across someone who is using obscene or abusive language or who is behaving in a physically aggressive way, you may feel intimidated. Depending on the severity of the situation, you have options:

  • Call 911 and ask for a crisis intervention team officer to conduct a wellness check.
  • Call 844-709-4097, a 24/7 helpline, to request a member of the mobile crisis management team.
  • Call an Ambassador at 910-524-3600 for assistance. They carry Street Sheets and can make the necessary calls. The Ambassadors also offer a safety escort service and can accompany you back to your car or to a safe place within the MSD.

Remember, giving money directly to panhandlers often supports drug and alcohol addiction. If you want to offer a real-life change to someone in need, Have A Heart – Give Smart to make a positive impact.

Text a donation: text “Heart” to 910.817.4301 or

Make an Online Donation

Downloadable Copy of Street Sheet

Learn More About The Ambassador Program