Homelessness Awareness and How You Can Get Involved

Posted by on March 7, 2019 in Activism, Conscious Living with 0 Comments

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, homelessness is not a life sentence. Homelessness, as pervasive as a problem it may seem, is a solvable issue. However, it is not one that can be solved overnight or with minimal effort. Rather, to solve the crisis of destitution, cities, states, and the nation must work together to bring literature, education, lobbying, and a sense of idealism to capable, energetic individuals who have the desire to both work with the homeless population and toward a real, sustainable solution.

In its press release to raise awareness, SAMHSA focuses on bringing college students and youth organizations together to combat the issue of displacement. However, as Rohit Varma, an internationally recognized ophthalmologist who also studies mental health, aging, and homelessness proves, there is much that an individual of any age, skill level, or background can do to help. If you want to get involved in the fight to end homelessness, there is volunteer work, financial or material contributions, advocacy efforts, and continued self-education programs in which you can get involved that make sense for your budget and schedule.

Get Involved in the Fight To End Homelessness

National Coalition for the Homeless Fact Sheet #19 lists dozens of ways in which you can get involved in the fight to combat vagrancy. The first and most obvious thing you can do is volunteer your time.

Volunteer Your Time

Volunteering your time to work directly with individuals who have been impacted by homelessness is one of the best ways to learn about the condition and displaced persons' immediate needs at the same time. There is a lot that goes on “behind the scenes” at shelters and public assistance agencies, including but not limited to sourcing food, preparing meals, filing paperwork, and sorting clothing, activities which the general public takes for granted. Chances are there is work available that you both enjoy and that makes a huge difference in the lives of men, women, and children without a place to call home.

With the vast number of agencies dedicated to combatting homelessness, it can be overwhelming to try and find one with which to work. The NCH provides a partial listing of Local Homeless Service Organizations that have the greatest impact on their communities. You can always begin your search for volunteer work there. Bear in mind that most organizations are so understaffed that it may take them a while to figure out how to work new help into the schedule. Be patient, follow up, and do everything you can to make their job easier (let them know what you can do, how often, and for how long).

Volunteer work doesn't have to just involve sourcing food, cutting vegetables, and sorting clothes. There are dozens of ways you can volunteer. Below are just some of them:

  • Help fix up or build houses or shelters.
  • Teach your hobbies to a group of people.
  • Offer professional advice or assist in job training.
  • Work with children.
  • Organize an event at a local shelter.

Advocate

Advocacy is just as critical to combatting homelessness as volunteering is. However, instead of working directly with destitute individuals, you work with agencies and local organizations to fight for positive changes in policies and programs on the federal, state, and local levels. Though advocacy does not involve volunteering in the strictest sense of the term, it does require a significant time investment and possibly lifestyle changes. You will be required to work with various sects of your community, be it city officials, businesses, members of Congress, or direct service providers. To influence these influencers, you may have to change your behaviors, speech patterns, and the way you dress to influence the way people perceive the fight to end homelessness.

Contribute

As mentioned above, anyone can get involved in the fight against destitution regardless of their social status, financial resources, or time constraints. One of the easiest ways to combat homelessness is to donate unused or unwanted items. Regardless of how much or how little you have, chances are you can look around your home right now and find a few items that someone in need would use and appreciate more than you do. Items that are always in high demand are as follows:

  • Clothing
  • Books
  • Household goods
  • Computers
  • In-kind services
  • Survival kits

You don't have to give away material possessions either. Many people contribute by offering jobs to homeless individuals. If you don't own a business, you can offer the young homeless man down the street the opportunity to maintain your lawn. If you do own a business, you can give the middle-aged woman you met at the shelter a chance to man your phones or greet customers.

If you have a lot of sway in your community, consider setting up a Go-Fund-Me or other type of fundraiser to raise funds specifically for the local homeless community. You can also sponsor a benefit, organize a yard sale, or host a live-music event at your kid's school and donate the proceeds.

If you don't have a lot to give, simply give a smile. A little bit of kindness goes a long way, especially for someone to whom kindness seems to be a stranger.

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