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It’s in full swing: National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Hunger, Outreach, Poverty

National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is finally upon us! From November 12th to the 20th, nonprofits, religious organizations, universities, high schools, and even grade schools across the continent are spending the night in cardboard cities in front of city hall, hosting hunger banquets, and organizing food drives to raise awareness about the problems of homelessness and food insecurity within their communities. These groups are reaching out to more than 50,000 people across almost all fifty states and Canada, advocating for those experiencing homelessness and hunger.

Hunger & Homelessness Awareness WeekToo often, we take for granted the festivities surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday. It is just another excuse to watch football and eat as much as you can, while mingling with relatives you rarely see. For many who cook the meal, Thanksgiving can even be a stressful time. You have to watch the turkey, make the rest of the food, and entertain your family at the same time. Throughout all of the hoopla, we forget that Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for all the blessings in our lives. We are clothed, well-fed, and housed. Because of our circumstances, we can look past the problems of today and focus on long term goals like vacations and retirement. We are fortunate, yet during the Thanksgiving season, many of us forget just how fortunate we are.

National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is about advocating for and raising awareness of people who are less fortunate than we are. During H&H week, people from across the country work together to ensure that everyone can celebrate Thanksgiving in their homes with their families and have some of the same blessings which many of us often take for granted. Whether it through giving supplies to our neighborhood food drive or by advocating for affordable housing in front of city hall, H&H week is about being so thankful for what we have that we want to share it with others. This week gives all of us, from Maine to California, a week to be in solidarity with those experiencing homelessness. By participating in activities in your area, you are raising awareness of those we often ignore while walking down the street. With more people aware of those experiencing homelessness, more work can be done to increase the number of affordable housing units, to work toward living wage requirements, and to make sure that no one goes hungry. Together, we can Bring America Home.

If you know of any events taking place in your community that are not listed on our website, please email us at handhweek@nationalhomeless.org or fill out the online form.

By Evan Thompson, NCH Fall 2011 Intern

Are you on Facebook? Have you voted for your favorite charity on the Chase Community Giving application?  You get 10 votes to help your favorite charity win up to $250,000.  Make your commitment to ending homelessness known by sharing one of your votes with the National Coalition for the Homeless!

Homelessness in the Back Yard : Yay or Nay?

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Outreach

The epidemic of homelessness is no longer ignorable. The rates of poverty, unemployment, and homelessness are on the rise in the nation people can no longer turn a blind eye. Just recently the US Census Bureau released figures that indicated that 46.2 million people currently live below the poverty line, the highest it has ever been in the 52 years that the Bureau has been publishing the number. And while giving a few bucks to those in need might help, further and more long-term solutions are needed.

That’s why Pivot, a homeless advocacy group located in Vancouver, has started sending out a “Yimby!” (Yes in my backyard) toolkit to counter local resistance from residents arguing that shelters and other services in their neighborhood are a detriment to society. The toolkit includes instructions on spreading the word of the need for mental health facilities, needle exchange programs, and supportive housing.

Most locals believe that by supporting these various programs – most notably the needle exchange program – their neighborhoods would become a haven for the homeless. NIMBYism (the “not in my back yard” pejorative) represents those who seek out a comfortable distance between the homeless and their neighborhoods. Locals are afraid that if they open their areas then a flood of the stereotypical homeless will rush in.

The YIMBY initiative is essential for progress to be made in the fight to end homelessness. I grew up in Lakeview, Chicago – about an 8 minute drive from downtown – and the plights of homelessness were abundant. My family and I also spent summers in Turkey where the “beggar culture” was rampant. As I compared the approaches of the two surroundings during my upbringing with Chicago having a more volunteer-based effort and Turkey being more faith-based, I found that interaction with community was key for solutions to be made. For example, most people ignore the homeless in Turkey but on certain holidays like “Sugar Feast” (?eker bayram), members of the upper class will slaughter lambs and cook them along with other traditional dishes to feed the local victims of poverty. Memories of my father and his family cooking the meal helped teach me that charity – a pillar of faith in Islam that I hold the dearest – is vital in community. My American mother also fostered in me a desire to volunteer, that if you are more fortunate than others it is your duty to contribute to help uplift society.

YIMBY defines this perfectly. The most effective way to end homelessness is when communities come together in the most appropriate way possible. Whether that is slaughtering a lamb on holidays or organizing different places of aid (needle exchange programs, shelters, and so on) it all brings us closer to the end of homelessness forever.

– Melis Solaksubasi, Fall 2011 Intern

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