Helping Others One Thread At a Time

Check out this heartwarming event that shows just how much effort and thought can be put towards helping those in need in unique ways. Massive donations and food drives are very important, but in this instance we can see that even the smallest of gifts can go a long way towards helping those in need.

Best,

Ryan

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Looking Beyond the Yard

Homelessness can take place in urban and rural areas with equal force. Check out this report from Columbus, Ohio, where good Samaritans from the community took their time and effort to raise awareness for the homeless through a yard sale. Everyone can do their part to give back, and this story powerfully reflects that.

Best,

Ryan

Why is D.C. inhabited by more homeless families than single adults?

Washington D.C., the nation’s capital, is home to one of the worst homeless crises in America. To make matters worse, for the first time, homeless families outnumber homeless individual adults. Entire families, mothers, fathers, little children are starving day in and day out and having a tough time to find shelter. This is alarming as the number of homeless families have soared by over thirty percent since last year, even though D.C.’s Mayor, Muriel Bowser, is actively trying to combat homelessness. All of this begs the question– Why are more and more families becoming homeless?

The answer to this question is Mayor Bowser’s biggest criticism. Yes, she has spent a substantial amount of money trying to combat homelessness and vows to increase this budget. Additionally, she has loosened regulations on homeless shelter requirements. All of these are important in combating homelessness, but critics of the Mayor blame the increase of homeless families on rising rates of real-estate, government and social failures, such as bad foster care, teenage pregnancy, and poor schooling.

Families: The Homeless You Don’t See

When driving or walking around a city, you know the familiar figures: individuals sitting on the ground, holding out the cup; war veterans in wheelchairs covered by colorful blankets on the street corner; men and women pacing along a major road median. While we might recognize these faces again and again, something seems to be missing.

These are all individuals. Where are the homeless families?

Families are a part of the homeless population that is not always seen. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the Department of Housing and Urban Development found that in 2015, “206,286 people in families with children were homeless on a single night…making up 36 percent of all homeless people counted.”While this number has been in decline, this is still a big deal, especially when you consider that this number includes children who do not have access to consistent meals, hygiene, or education.

A recent article from the San Francisco Chronicle outlines a new city plan to house homeless families, an interesting development in fighting homelessness. The article notes that “There are 1,303 homeless families in San Francisco‚Äôs public schools with a total of 2,097 children, more than double the total nine years ago,” and that “Families are fewer, hidden away and easier to ignore.” In response, the city plans to:

  • Move the families living in dire conditions to emergency shelters
  • Move the families who do have shelter to long-term housing
  • Manage one database for information and one entry point for services

While not perfect (the article details potential challenges of the plan), this is still a new, helpful response to eliminating chronic homelessness and making things better for families. When it comes to homelessness, most people forget that people from all walks of life, backgrounds, and ages can be affected. Hopefully San Francisco’s program, which hopes to be in full swing by 2020, can be a success other cities can emulate. After all, helping homeless individuals find their families is just as important as helping families find a home.

Miracle Messages: Using the Power of Social Media to Bring Families Together

Homelessness can be associated with negative ideas, such as poverty, hard circumstances, substance addition, alcoholism, and more. Given that these have been ingrained in members of society, it comes as a surprise to some when they interact with homeless people, and find that they are “normal” and have feelings, just like any other person.

Kevin Adler, a San Francisco resident, is trying to overcome these social perceptions and the barrier between the homeless and homed populations. In 2014, Adler started Miracle Messages, a project that aims to reunite homeless individuals with their family members. He records short video clips of homeless individuals, and strategically places them on YouTube and social media sites in the hopes that the person’s family will see it. The family is invited to record a video response, and, if willing, can set up a reunion meeting. Adler has traveled to various states, and is now engaging on a cross-country campaign to reunite 100 homeless individuals with their families.

With all of the negative feelings around homelessness, it can be a breath of fresh air and a relief to see an organization actively working to help people find their families and get on their feet again. Miracle Messages was featured in the Huffington Post, as well as other magazines and news sites for their work. Check out their recent video (although it may make you cry!) to learn more about Miracle Messages’ work and see some of their reunions. Let’s hope that Miracle Messages sets a precedent, and that after years of hardship, those who have been without a home are able to come home.