Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday Feature ~ Housing for the Homeless Walk-A-Thon

The National Coalition for the Homeless describe the cause of homelessness inextricably linked to poverty. People who are poor are frequently unable to pay for housing, food, childcare, health care, and education. When limited resources cover only some of these basic necessities, difficult choices must be made and often it is housing, which absorbs a high proportion of income that must be dropped. Being poor means being an illness, an accident, or a paycheck away from living on the streets.

In these present tough economic times, many are becoming part of a population called the "hidden homeless". This particular population is a direct result of the growing rise of joblessness and mortgage foreclosures throughout the US.

For many years, I have been a volunteer and supporter of the York County Shelter Programs here in Maine. Their Mission is to end homelessness and assist individuals in reaching their fullest potential by providing access to appropriate housing, offering assistance toward personal growth opportunities and community resources. They estimate the number of homeless people in America range from two-four million and about 1200 individuals are homeless in Maine on any given night, including 400-500 children. Roughly 10,000 individuals spend time in Maine's shelters throughout the year and many others are at risk. (Maine Coalition to End Homelessness, 2003). York County Shelters does a wonderful job meeting the many needs of those homeless or at risk of homelessness here in Southern Maine.

Today I am participating in their 2nd annual "Housing for the Homeless" Walk-A-Thon.
The intent of the two mile walk is to bring attention to the plight of homeless in York County and to raise funds to help. Last year the walk raised $17,000 in sponsorships and pledges. This year during these challenging economic times the need is even greater. The walk-a-thon will be held at the beautiful Kennebunk Beaches, beginning at Mother's Beach and ending at Gooches Beach. If you wish to make a tax deductible donation click here to be taken directly to their website. I encourage you to locate your local homeless shelter or food pantry and make a donation or get involved in some way to support their programs that help those in need. Here are a few suggestions:
  • Volunteer. Help out at a local shelter by distributing clothes, serving meals, or answering phones (for a directory, visit http://www.hud.gov/homeless/hmlsagen.cfm ).
  • Donate. Gather up any clothes, toys, books,computers, any household goods, toiletries, even automobiles you’re not using and donate them to your local homeless shelter. You also can donate directly to homeless people. If you don’t want to give money, offer a warm meal, a gift certificate to a fast-food restaurant, transportation tokens, or recyclable bottles that can be turned in for cash.
  • Advocate. Contact your local representatives and push for new legislation to help the homeless.
  • Employ. Hire homeless people at your company. If you’re not in a position to hire anyone, ask your Human Resources manager whether there might be internships or full-time opportunities available where they can develop new skills.
  • Respect. If you do nothing else, be kind. The next time you see a homeless person on the street, don’t just look away. Everyone deserves respect and a smile.

This beautiful 1833 Shaker Barn has become the home of the Healthy Habits Center and Food Pantry of the York County Shelter Programs, Inc. It represents the very best efforts of many good people who take great pride in helping others to gain a sense of safety, wellness, and hope.


Little Dickens Designs said...

Good for you! My husband worked for organizations that serve the homeless for 13 years. He would have loved to have been able to put himself out of a job.

Sarah Knight said...

quite altruistic : )