I’m going to take a break from my personal career struggle, my search for frugality, financial zen and the zen state of mind and talk about a friend in need.
A good friend of mine from “back in the day” (it was a Wednesday, in case you were wondering) – recently emailed me about a fund raiser he’s doing to help benefit the homeless – but instead of summarizing, here’s his note:
My reason for contacting you all is simple. I am walking in a fundraiser to benefit the homeless, and would like to ask you to sponsor my walk. To those that is all I need to say, here’s the link to sponsor me.
But for everyone else, if I haven’t already told you, I am an AmeriCorps*VISTA. I am paid a small living stipend to volunteer full-time for a nonprofit in Indianapolis. I work on fundraising, communications, infrastructure (boring policy stuff), and whatever else my organization needs, for a year.
And it’s been quite the eye-opening experience. The first thing I’ve learned is that it’s a bad idea to coddle the homeless. Excepting some individuals (the mentally ill, domestic abuse victims, and veterans) a good portion of the homeless are people who really messed up in life and ended up unable to do basic things like pay for rent.
But the consequences of leaving these people to fend for themselves are obvious to anyone who lives in a metropolitan area. They increase crime. They beg on street corners. They get beat up by thrill-seeking teenagers (no, really; google “homeless fights”). And they encourage the drug trade.
But the answer is not to give them hand-outs. My organization, Partners In Housing Development Corporation, is engaged in a “hand-out.” We develop what’s called supportive housing. We take old, abandoned buildings and renovate them for affordable housing. We give the homeless and low-income a place to live where they also get access to social services, like substance abuse counselors, job training, mental health services, and even some health care providers.
You should see these resource coordinators in action. They’re like impromptu parents. If a resident recently got a job, they call and check that they’re showing up every day. They conduct AA meetings and smoking-cessation classes. They leave their doors open so to see the residents walk by and ask them how they’re doing. And they criticize to motivate.
I really believe in what my organization does. I believe that permanent housing, combined with social services, is the answer to ending homelessness. The homeless need something that acts as transitional housing without the deadline. Of our residents who stay for three months, the average stay is just under two years before they transition to living on their own, working like the rest of us.
It’s quite inspiring, the idea that we could actually fix homelessness. Maybe pie-in-the-sky, I know, but at least the immediate benefits are there: less people living on the street.
So, I’m walking to fundraise for my organization on Sunday, and if you’re able and inclined to support my cause, I’d love for you to visit the link below and donate whatever you want. My goal is $125.00, but that’s the bare minimum, and I think my friends and family can do much better.
And to my family (and friends, if so inclined): please forward this to everybody you think might donate. I don’t have near-enough e-mails to reach everyone. Beth, Mom, Dad, Alex, forward this to the fam so that they get it.
Here’s the link again.
I trust that the organization I’m working for is actually helping the homeless problem. I see it everyday.
I’ll stop talking now. The deadline to donate is Saturday evening. I know, I know, it’s a bit late in the game. But I’ve been pretty busy at work. Thank you for listening and if I haven’t seen you recently, call me to catch up!