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Archive for August, 2012

Why Membership Matters to Steve Thomas:

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Speakers' Bureau

Steve Thomas is a member of NCH’s Faces of Homelessness Speakers Bureau and an active advocate for the rights of homeless citizens. Read his story and hear why Membership Matters to him:

“I first became involved with NCH almost five years ago. After being addicted to drugs and alcohol for forty years and having had that lead to my living on the streets of DC, homeless, for almost two years, an outreach worker found me and got me into treatment. While undergoing treatment, I was introduced to a speaker from NCH that introduced me to the organization. Immediately I realized that NCH respected me as a human being. That my past addiction issues and homelessness didn’t matter in my assessment as a person. I learned that we all had a story, and that the telling of that story of my addiction leading to homelessness could be used to educate the public. To put a face to homelessness was an essential tool in the war to end homelessness. What I didn’t know or expect was the boost to my self-esteem (which had been very low my entire life) and the first time feeling of self-worth.

NCH ignited and fueled my passion for homeless advocacy. NCH taught me to be self respectful and to expect that of others. The last five years of being a member of NCH and being a speaker with the NCH “Faces of Homelessness” Speakers Bureau has made me a better person, a more concerned person, a more informed person and a more caring person. All this has allowed me to be a forceful advocate for the homeless, THE FORGOTTEN CITIZENS.”

Find your voice and support men and women like Steve by joining NCH and make your Membership Matter!

No Wrong Doors for Homeless Veterans

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Veterans

Taylor Southall and I (both AmeriCorps Summer VISTA volunteers with NCH’s VISTA Project) planned and organized an event last week called No Wrong Door. The idea was to get local organizations that serve the homeless together in order to teach them about the options available for homeless veterans, with the hope that if a homeless veteran ever shows up at their organization they would know exactly how to help.

We got in contact with the Veterans Administration and they sent representatives from the Veterans Health Administration, and the Veterans Benefit Administration. We also invited an attorney who has a practical and in-depth knowledge of accessing benefits and healthcare.

The event was held at the VA’s newly opened Community Resource and Referral Center, which is like a one-stop-shop for veterans seeking help.

More than 25 people show up the event, and we had a wait-list of over 50 people who wanted to come to the next training event. It was very interesting to learn about the different services provided by the VA, and great to see service providers connecting the dots to understand how to access VA benefits, and how they could be more effective when working with a veteran.

Throughout the summer Taylor and I have been working hard to make sure service providers in the DC area know what resources are available for veterans. We have met in person with many of the homeless service organizations and have developed a Homeless Veteran Resource Card that will be delivered to any organization where homeless veterans might go to for assistance. The Card has everything veterans can use in the DC area to access assistance, such as legal assistance, housing, and mental health services. This is the first card of its kind and we know it’s going to have a big impact on homeless veterans. We are glad we can help people who fought for our homes find a place to call home.

Taylor and I are also glad that No Wrong Door was a successful event, and that we were able to be a part of organizing the event.  We’re confident that the Resource Card will continue to help local organizations find the resources veterans need to get off the streets and that future No Wrong Door events will continue to build relationships between service agencies and VA Offices that will help more effectively provide for the veteran community.

Contact me if you’d like to know more about the Veterans Resource Card, or read more about the event on Friendship Place’s blog.

-Marc McCue
NCH Summer VISTA Volunteer

Why Membership Matters to Jeremy Haile:

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy

For the Membership Matters campaign, we have asked our current members why they support NCH.  In today’s installment, current Board Member Jeremy Haile shares his 15 year history with NCH, and talks about why he continues to support NCH:

“Some fifteen years ago, Michael Stoops came to Midland,Texas, and it changed my life. Midland is a town known more for its oil bust than for its political activism.  But that’s where I first heard Michael speak about the acute problem of homelessness, its causes, and what could be done to address it.  Michael was like a prophetic voice in the wilderness.  His intelligence and passion awakened in me a desire to join the fight for justice for marginalized people.

I doubt this story is unusual.  For decades, the National Coalition for the Homeless has been bringing attention to one of our nation’s greatest injustices — that too many people do not have a home.  Thanks to NCH, thousands of people, young and old, have been awakened to this challenge.  Many have made addressing homelessness their life’s work.  When NCH was established, federal funding for emergency shelters and affordable housing barely existed.  Now, thanks largely to NCH, such funds provide homes and services to people and families who need them.

Though much work remains to be done, the National Coalition for the Homeless is committed to protecting those who don’t have a home and fighting until all of us do.  NCH is truly the voice of and for the homeless.  That’s why I am honored to support them.”

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