NATIONALHOMELESS.ORG
Twitter Facebook Facebook Facebook Facebook

Posts Tagged ‘Giving back’

Guest Post: National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness

Today’s guest post is from Dr. Norweeta Milburn, Professor at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Milburn chaired the American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2009 Presidential Task Force on Psychology’s Contribution to End Homelessness.  The task force released a great report, and NCH is proud to partner with the APA’s Public Interest Directorate to raise awareness among psychologists of how we can all work together to end homelessness.

As I walk my daily early morning route up Westwood Avenue from the parking garage to my UCLA office in the old Neuropsychiatric Institute, it is impossible not to see what appears to be bundles of clothing in doorways are actually people sleeping. Homeless people have found a place to sleep that provides some security and shelter in the doorways of office buildings and store fronts in a relatively safe area.

In the mild Southern California October evenings, the doorways do not seem like such a bad spot to spend the night, but people will still be there, layered deeper in their worn clothing, when our weather turns wet and cold.  In the late afternoon, homeless people are sitting on benches or walking on the sidewalks; some are seriously mentally and actively psychotic, but some are not.  Other homeless people come to Westwood to panhandle but do not sleep on the streets.

Photo courtesy of davco9200 on Flickr

There is a man that I exchange “hello, how are you and have a nice day” with every day who gets off a bus in the morning to walk to his “spot” to stand with a cup asking for donations.  His cup says he is a homeless veteran.  There are other homeless veterans on the street in wheelchairs.  In the shadow of one of the world’s great universities, Westwood is no different from urban areas in many other cities where homeless people seem to be everywhere.

Before we accept this as the inevitable result of the new normal, what can be done to move public policy further in the direction of ending homelessness?   The American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Psychology’s Contribution to End Homelessness, it ‘s report “Helping People without Homes: The Role of Psychologists and Recommendations to Advance Training, Research, Practice and Policy,” advocates for  federal legislation to create supportive housing and safe low-income housing across geographic areas (e.g., urban, suburban and rural) and for legislation that provides  for mental health and a range of other needed services for homeless people: low-income housing, supplemental income, food and benefits.  Even in this era of limited funding, the needs of people who are homeless cannot be ignored.

What do I do personally?  Sometimes I put money in their cups. I try to always acknowledge homeless people who approach me – say  hello when greeted with a hello, and say sorry, no, when asked for spare change and don’t want to give it.  I also carry granola bars in my car (as suggested by another psychologist).

I wasn’t sure about this tactic, but one day after I had parked my car on the street, a rather sullen homeless young person sitting in a doorway by the parking spot asked for spare change.  I said no, sorry, but asked if he would like a few granola bars.  He actually perked up, lost his adolescent attitude and said yes.    His entire demeanor changed – I don’t think it was just the food, it was the fact that another person had taken a few minutes to stop and connect with him. Sometimes that is all we can do daily – continue to remember that homeless people are fellow human beings just like us and those brief social connections do matter.

Jazz Musician Sings for Change

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Awareness

Jazz singer, Madeleine Peyroux, is a long time advocate and philanthropist of organizations fighting to end homelessness. She was born in Georgia, but grew up in the cities of New York City and Paris. She was inspired to start singing at age 15 after being inspired by the street musicians in the Latin Quarter of Paris. One year later she joined the Lost Wandering Blues and Jazz Band and toured Europe. In 1996 she released her first album, “Dreamland” and since then has released an addition three albums.

To pursue the playing of music as a career soon after, was for me a continuation of my time in those streets, with the families I had created and the echoes I had left behind.”

The singer, songwriter and guitarist has been compared to the likes of Billie Holiday. She has preformed all around the world. She has toured with big names, like Sarah McLachlan, but has also headlined her own tours around the country and world. Starting in 2005, Peyroux began adding a $1.00 surcharge to her concert tickets to raise money for local homeless organizations. Her efforts have raised thousands for organizations like Real Change in Seattle, Street Roots in Portland and the Emergency Family Assistance Association in Boulder, among many others. She is a strong supporter of the work of the National Coalition for the Homeless.

In addition to her philanthropic commitment, she was recently featured on a CD compilation called “Give US Your Poor.” The album features musicians, such as Bruce Springsteen, and collaborations with currently or formerly homeless musicians. The proceeds from the album benefit the national awareness campaign, Give US Your Poor. Madeleine Peyroux is a musician dedicated to making real change.

By Samantha McClean, Former NCH Intern

*Photo used with permission from Madeleine Peyroux

What Their Stories Can Teach Us

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Speakers' Bureau

The following piece is a speech that was presented by a participant of the Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau after her trip to Washington, DC:

Someone once said, “Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.”

Before DC, my Faces of Homelessness Speakersclassmates and I were just like everyone else, we feared what we did not understand and therefore we did our best to avoid it. We go about our lives ignoring the bad, because we believe it cannot happen to us, but honestly, I don’t think any of us truly believe that.

It is crazy how one moment can alter your entire outlook on life, making you realize that up until that moment, you had not understood life itself. After a day of lobbying in DC, we went to the Thurgood Marshall Community Center to hear a program on homelessness. We would be hearing stories from people who had once been homeless and were now sharing there stories with others.

As a normal teenager, I was thinking, “This is gonna be boring, hopefully I will be able to take a nap.” But, from the moment the first man opened his mouth to speak, I was hooked, and by the end of the program, I found myself in tears. Whether they were tears of sorrow for those people and what they went through, or tears of my guilt in feeling so unaware of what is going on in the world, I knew from that moment I had to help. I know my classmates had that same feeling too. As we walked out of the building to the metro, there was a homeless man sitting on the steps of a restaurant, I opened my wallet along with my other classmates, and put in a dollar. The look on his face was priceless, and from then on, the rest of the trip we all decided to help the homeless, not only by giving them money, but most importantly, by letting them know we cared.

On our last night in DC, about five of my classmates and I along with Rabbi Ed wanted to do one last thing. After dinner, we walked over the pharmacy and bought packs of goldfish, granola bars and Koolaid. We each chipped in about two dollars, and with that we were on our way.

We were on a search to find those people in need, the ones who get ignored on the streets, the ones who are looked at and thought of as lazy and dumb. We were on a mission, that mission was to find those people, and not just to give them the food we had bought, but to make them feel like they weren’t alone in this world, and to let them know there were still people who cared and wanted to help them.

From DC I learned a lot, but I never thought I would view homeless people to be an inspiration. Each morning they awake to nothing, looking for somewhere to go, for food to eat, and shelter for warmth. These challenges all arise to them before we even awake in the morning. We go about our days complaining about our gross school lunches, our lack of sleep, our loads of homework, and much more. But, we never stop to think of how amazing our lives are, and how we should thank our parents for everything they do for us, and how in one moment all of that can be gone. We could have everything taken away from us at any time, our family, friends, house, school. But no, we don’t think about those things. Why you might ask? Because we don’t believe it could ever happen to us. Until now.

So I would like to thank my parents, friends, and Rabbi, for helping me open my eyes to the real world that surrounds me. And lastly, thank you DC, without you I would still be in fear of what I did not understand, but now that I understand it, life seems to mean all the more.

-Jamie Goodman
John Burroughs School

NATIONALHOMELESS.ORG

National Coalition for the Homeless | 2201 P St NW, Washington, DC 20037 | (202) 462-4822 | info [at] nationalhomeless [dot] org
© 2014 National Coalition for the Homeless | Private Policy
Powered by Warp Theme Framework