THE MANY FACES OF HOMELESSNESS: HOW YOU CAN HELP

blog_title_image_homelessnessKnowing how to help a homeless person can sometimes feel difficult, confusing and overwhelming. The dollar you give might be used to buy drugs or alcohol. Even offering food can be a problem – imagine handing an apple to a homeless man and then discovering he has no teeth.

Just as there are many reasons people become homeless, there are also many ways to help. Understanding the leading causes of homelessness is often the best way to learn what the homeless need and how you can make a positive difference in their lives.

The chronically homeless, who often struggle with mental health or substance abuse issues, need a safe and stable living environment where they can get counseling and health care. To help them, consider volunteering at a local shelter or halfway house that provides longer-term housing. Donating clean towels, pillows and blankets can also help create a comfortable and safe living environment.

The majority of homeless youth bw_homeless_teens_21461332have been kicked out of their homes or abandoned by parents or guardians. Others who left on their own accord have suffered physical and emotional abuse at the hands of their families. For many, trusting another adult or authority figure can be difficult. One of the best ways to help is to simply ask them what they need. Maybe it’s a hot meal, a warm coat or a clean pair of socks; or maybe it’s information on how to get into foster care, enroll in a drug and alcohol detox program or register for the GED. Taking the time to listen to their needs, and to follow through, can go a long way in helping them regain their trust in others and get off the streets.

imm needs housing homelessFor many veterans, physical disability, mental anguish and post-traumatic stress can make readjusting to civilian life very difficult. This can lead to drug and alcohol addiction, the inability to hold down a steady job and homelessness. Because many veterans have very specific needs to help them get back on their feet—job placement services, medical services, housing assistance, counseling—there are numerous ways to get involved. Consider donating your time or money to organizations which help homeless vets:

While we need to address the problem of homelessness as a whole, the more we can understand each person’s individual circumstances, the more we can help. Before making assumptions or judgments, take the time to ask some questions and do a little research. It can make all the difference.

The Face(s) of Homelessness

  • Number of homeless in the United States: 610,042
  • Number of chronic homeless: 109,132 (18%)
  • Number of homeless youth under 18: 380,000
  • Number of homeless veterans: 57,849 (9%)

For more charities helping the homeless with shelter, counseling services and job training.

-Amelia Glynn, Marketing Contractor

Hunger and Food Justice: Community Building for Food Equality

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Hunger: it’s a daunting problem the world over. Even though I was eager to research and write on this topic, when I started to dig into it, I got more and more overwhelmed with how broad and profound the issue … Continue reading

Help Save Animals—Channel Your Care and Passion into Action.

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We have a 2-year old goldendoodle affectionately known as “Sir Riley Flannigan.” Flannigan for his apricot color, Riley’s a mix of poodle and golden retriever that’s taken a place in my life and heart I could never have imagined.

My family had outside cats and dogs when I was growing up on the farm, but until Riley (who doesn’t shed), my allergies kept me from owning an animal as an adult. Now, sharing every day with such a loving, sensitive, energetic, and smart dog that has comforted me through sadness and sickness– I can’t imagine what kind of person could harm or hurt any companion animal.

We know animals love and remember us, and feel pain and fear. Their eyes and expressions tell us what they can’t say. They’re companions who watch over and protect us. Dogs, in particular, give many humans a new “leash” on life—they guide the blind and visually impaired, improve the lives of autistic children, save diabetics, and give independence to people with disabilities and veterans.

There’s no question our pets miss us when we’re gone—watch Bugaboo show and tell his owner, Lieutenant Gary Daughtery, how happy he is to see him after six months overseas:

 

Honestly, the many types of animal abuse and cruelty—what we know, see, read and hear about—can be overwhelming. I sometimes turn away from TV ads and scroll quickly past Facebook posts because they get to me. And I feel pretty helpless to stop all the abuse. There are a lot of issues to tackle.

How do we move past anger and overwhelm about how animals are treated to help save them? We can start with what we see every day and be their voice—using our passion to take action.

Learn and Recognize Signs of Pet Abuse

Pay attention to the animals around you. Are there any dogs you’ve seen chained up for hours on end? Have you ever walked your dog and witnessed another aggressive, out of control one? Or gone by a house where there are so many animals you worry about their care? These could be signs of neglect or violence.

  • Neglect is denying an animal adequate food, water, shelter (a dog house), medical care (injuries left untreaDogted), clean area, socialization (is the animal aggressive or timid when approached by owner), or chained up in a yard.
  • Violence is deliberately torturing, beating, or mutilating an animal.

Speak Up: Report Abuse

Almost all acts of animal violence or neglect are punishable by law. While animal cruelty laws vary from state to state, 49 states have laws that contain felony provisions. (South Dakota is the only one that doesn’t). Be prepared: Search online at Pets911 or PetFinder’s database to find a local animal control department, animal shelter or humane society in your area—and program the number into your cell phone.

If you suspect abuse or neglect of any animal, report it to your local police department or area animal control agency. If you’re traveling, call the local police department (911).

If you know of dog or cock fighting, call The Humane Society hotline at 1-877-TIP-HSUS and report it.

Donate—Support Organizations Working to Stop the Abuse

According to the ASPCA, every 60 seconds an animal is abused. Put your money where your heart is, and give for the education, protection, and care Stray Kittenof animals. (Consider an ongoing monthly gift.) If you don’t know where to start:

While animal issues may seem staggering and even depressing, you and I can take action to make life better for them—to end suffering and save these amazing creatures, one by one.  And the next time I sit with Riley or get a doggie kiss, I’ll feel good knowing I’m doing something to help precious creatures like him.

 

 

How You Can Help Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan

Super Typhoon Haiyan slammed into six central islands of the Philippines Friday. With sustained winds of 195 miles per hour and wind gusts that reached over 230 miles per hour, Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) may be the deadliest natural disaster in the nation’s history. It is one of the most intense typhoons ever recorded, leaving massive destruction and killing an estimated 10,000 people. Another 600,000 more people have no place to live.

Entire towns, villages and homes on the Eastern seaboard were ravaged, swept away by the typhoon’s winds and huge waves. Interior Secretary Manual Roxas told Reuters, “From a helicopter, you can see the extent of devastation. From the shore and moving a kilometer inland, there are no structures standing. It’s horrific.”

The stories of children snatched from parent’s arms by the force of the wind and people carried away by rushing water are heart wrenching. We are only beginning to know the details and understand the full extent of the storm. In Typhoon Haiyan’s aftermath, rescue workers are having a hard time getting through to people who are desperately trying to survive.

Charities have quickly responded to provide emergency support, food and clean water, medicine, shelter and more. Please donate now to organizations sending urgently-needed aid to help children and survivors:

Help Colorado Flood Victims Recover

Starting on September 9, the state of Colorado received a huge amount of rain, causing intense flooding and massive amounts of damage. Flood waters cover almost 200 miles from North to South and affect 17 counties. A state of emergency was declared, authorizing federal search and rescue teams, and supplies be sent to the area. The devastation, though, is far-reaching:

  • Nearly 19,000 homes were damaged, and more than 15,000 were destroyed.
  • 1,750 people and 300 pets were rescued by air and ground. Six people were killed.
  • 5,250 gallons of crude oil spilled into the South Platte River when storage tanks in Milliken were damaged.
  • 200 miles of state highways and 50 bridges were destroyed.

Quick repairs are absolutely critical, since winter weather will make highway work far more difficult. Please donate now to organizations helping Colorado recover:

    • American Red Crosssupplying food, shelter, and relief items such as clean up kits, rakes, tarps, shovels, flashlights, gloves, coolers, comfort kits, and insect repellant.
    • Foothills United Way – established the ‘Foothills Flood Relief Fund’ to provide needed health and human services to those affected by the flooding in Boulder and Broomfield counties.
    • Salvation Army – deploying mobile canteens, and is providing hundreds of thousands of meals to displaced people.
    • Save the Children – working with American Red Cross to create “Child-Friendly Spaces” in evacuation centers to ease the trauma on children.
    • Weld County Humane Society - providing assistance to the more than 300 displaced pets rescued by air and ground.

Moore Oklahoma Tornado: Help them recover

On May 20, a massive tornado destroyed parts of Oklahoma City and Moore, Oklahoma, killing 24 people—including seven children. With your help, organizations like the Red Cross and Food Bank of Oklahoma provided immediate disaster relief to people affected.

As relief efforts continue, the recovery process begins. After a week, victims of the tornado are coming to grips with the loss of their homes, along with all their personal belongings. The twister caused up to $5 billion in insured damage, and 1,200 homes were completely destroyed.

While it could be easy to let this disaster fade in our minds as media coverage wanes, rebuilding will take quite awhile. This tornado flattened entire blocks of homes, two schools and a hospital. Imagine losing everything you own in a few short minutes—that’s exactly the reality many people face.

Help the children, families and the community of Moore, Oklahoma rebuild ”normal” life, and donate now to charities working for their recovery. As more information becomes available, we’ll continue to update this list:

  • Adopt a Classroom - helping teachers and students at Plaza Towers and Briarwood Elementary Schools rebuild their classrooms.
  • AmeriCares  assessing and addressing long term health needs.
  • Architecture for Humanity – working with local and regional construction professionals to support the rebuilding.
  • Habitat for Humanity - seeking help with long-term rebuilding efforts and aid for families who need safe, affordable places to live.
  • Matthew: 25 Ministries – continuing to support the families and people of Moore as long as it’s needed.
  • Operation Blessing International – working with The Home Depot to dispatch a construction unit, mobile command center, trucks with tools and supplies, and a team of construction foremen to Moore.
  • Operation USA – making small grants (as funds allow) to community-based organizations as they rebuild.
  • Samaritan’s Purse – focusing on cleaning and repairing damaged homes.
  • Save the Children – providing recovery support for children and families.
  • Team Rubicon – assisting with home repair and rebuilding.

Give for Tornado Victims Now

A violent, massive tornado struck the Oklahoma City suburbs with vengeance Monday, May 20. In what is described as one of the most destructive tornadoes in recent history, the tornado, nearly 2 miles wide with wind speeds of up to 200 miles per hour, left extensive damage and lives that are forever changed in its wake.

As details continue to emerge in the tornado’s aftermath, President Obama has declared it a major disaster and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts.

Homes, schools and businesses were leveled in Moore, a community of about 55,000 people. The tornado was on the ground for about 40 minutes, leaving behind a debris field 20 miles long and several miles wide. Two elementary schools, Plaza Towers Elementary and Briarwood Elementary, were directly hit and destroyed.

Close to 200 people are being treated for their injuries, including 70 children. Families have been ripped apart and their homes no longer exist. Across the country, hearts are heavy with the loss of so many young lives.

Open your heart and give now—with a one-time donation or a monthly recurring gift—to organizations providing emergency aid. Your donation will help residents receive the shelter, food, relief supplies and emotional support they need today:

This local tragedy stirs deep emotion

I’ve been having great difficulty dealing with the horror that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. My kids are often in Sandy Hook for sports and other activities, and I have spent many weekends on the sidelines of the soccer fields directly behind the school.

Holiday AngelNewtown is almost identical to my town of Weston, Connecticut, so it is very hard for me to let go of the horror by rationalizing to myself that it is far away or such a different type of community than my own. This trauma is deeper for all of us because the reality is that this could have happened anywhere and to any of us. That is what is most profoundly frightening about this event.

I have a 7 year old who is always curious, and he came home from school on Friday asking a lot of questions. After asking all the main questions, he paused and asked, “How did the kids know what to do when their teacher died?” He was obviously putting himself directly into that situation. I am very sad he has to think about these things at such an early age. As he was going to bed that night he asked, “Does God make these bad people?” I had to explain that everyday, we all wake up and have to make many decisions that can make us “good” or “bad” for that moment.

Every night now when I put him to bed, I first get a chill of realization that he could have been in that 1st grade classroom, and then I give a grateful hug that he is still here to tuck in.

It is almost impossible to comprehend the depth of tragedy and anguish that will always be a part of the Newtown community. Life is so precious—and at the same time, it can be unfair and unpredictable.

While our hearts are broken for the victims and all of those affected by this senseless tragedy,  the healing process must begin. There are many nonprofits that are currently supporting the town with: cleaning up the old school, setting up the new school, providing health services to residents in the community, supporting the firefighters, supplying aid for the memorial services, and offering ongoing activities to help the kids heal. To find out more and how to help Newtown, here’s an article that gives several ways you can be supportive.

A few charities providing the community with services that you can donate to:

kindnessMy personal belief is that we all must put a little bit of goodness back into the world and do what we can to overcome the horror by being kind to those around us. In addition to helping Newtown directly, random acts of kindness should be part of our daily routine to spread goodness. More than something we do in response to Ann Curry’s tweet…something we make part of our everyday life.

—Kendall Webb, Executive Director

Help Residents Get Relief from Superstorm Sandy

“Frankenstorm,” a combination of Hurricane Sandy, an early winter storm in the West, and arctic air from the North, has caused incalculable damage in the Caribbean and across the East Coast of the United States. Residents from Northern Canada to Bermuda are caught in the never-before-experienced aftermath of flooding, power outages, fires and devastation. Cities are struggling to supply basic services and restore order.

Give now—with a one-time donation or monthly recurring gift—so charities can get residents the help they need. Here is a list of charities on the ground, working, right now:

  • American Red Cross — Providing shelter and supplies. During the first day of the storm, Red Cross had already deployed 1,300 disaster workers and had 160 emergency vehicles ready to respond.
  • AmeriCares — Delivering medical aid and shelter supplies.
  • ASPCA — Providing shelter and food for thousands of animals.
  • City Harvest— Providing food to people in the areas hardest hit.
  • Direct Relief International— Supporting the immediate needs of those affected by working with local partners best situated to assess, respond, and prepare for long-term recovery.
  • Doctors Without Borders— Treating patients on the spot in New York and New Jersey.
  • Habitat for Humanity— Rebuilding, repairing and cleaning up in the hardest hit areas.
  • Humane Society — Supplying  shelter and food for pets.
  • Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City— Identifying immediate aid needs, including food, water and hygiene supplies, as well as long-term relief and restoration efforts.
  • Operation USA — Sending emergency, shelter and cleaning supplies to affected areas, in addition to helping health clinics restore services.
  • Samaritan’s Purse — Sending staff, equipment and volunteers to three of the affected areas on the East Coast.
  • Save the Children—Reuniting children with their families, providing child-friendly shelter.
  • United Way of America— Addressing recovery needs in communities that FEMA has declared disaster areas.
  • World Vision —Supplying flood clean-up kits, personal hygiene items, and emergency food kits.

For more charities that offer help to US disaster victims, search the JustGive Guide.

Famine – It’s a small world, after all

I am reminded daily just how small our world can be. Most recently, an earthquake on the other side of the globe could have contaminated the fish I eat for dinner or the California coastal water I swim in. Japanese trading delays affected the lines of iPad impatience outside our local Apple stores—providing a front row seat to how connected our modern world is and how faraway disasters can have ripple effects that touch us in unexpected ways.

Seemingly back to back, a stream of disasters have headlined the US media: Haiti, The Gulf Coast oil spill, earthquake and nuclear contamination in Japan, tornadoes in the South – and now the horn of Africa drought.  The UN has declared famine in several regions of war-torn Somalia during the continent’s worst drought in more than 60 years. This is a dire prognosis, given the limited aid available/allowed by the current al-Shabab regime and the mass migration of people fleeing to neighboring countries for refuge that may not exist.

Photo Credit: Business Daily

Not as many people have responded to the Somali famine as previous disasters or requests for aid. Perhaps we feel helpless, that our dollars don’t make a difference, or that we’ve donated to other causes and are already stretched thin. In the meantime, 3.2 million people, nearly half the population of Somalia, need immediate life saving assistance. To date, more than 29,000 children have already died and another 640,000 are malnourished.

Photo Credit: Associated Press, Zuydam

While living abroad, I participated in the 40-Hour Famine with World Vision Australia, where I raised money by not eating for 40 hours. It was a real life feeling of what it would be like to live and function without sustenance – luckily one that ended after a mere 2 days.

40 Hour Famine Crew at the South Australian Global Leadership Convention

Millions of people both domestically and abroad are not so fortunate.

IMAGE CREDIT: FAMINE EARLY WARNING SYSTEMS NETWORK & FOOD SECURITY AND NUTRITION ANALYSIS UNIT

I am immediately struck by the current crisis in Africa and consider it to be a GLOBAL concern and priority that children are dying of starvation in a world where there is and should be enough food for everyone. We all need to be involved, and take it personally.

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

Support charities providing assistance on the ground: 

In our ever-growing and connected “small world,” my actions – and yours –can make things better.

>> Wondering how much to give? JustGive helps you get started. Consider making your gift an automatic monthly donation (just click recurring).

>> Start a charity registry and do your own famine fundraising!

>> Keep the conversation going on Facebook and Twitter - inspire your friends to be part of the solution.


– Michelle Koffler, Marketing Coordinator