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December 18, 2013

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The little boy ran into my office today, crawled up on my lap, put his hands on either side of my face, looked me in the eye and said” I miss you”. He is very hard to understand but that came out loud and clear! After he left with our usual “See you later” I started to think about how and when we lose the ability as adults to  tell people what we really feel. To my friend and I we do not worry about labels or judgements or what is and what isn’t. We just are together. He knows I am so glad to see him and he’s glad to see me. I want to carry that feeling in every interaction I have with homeless families  and remember how I felt when we looked into each other’s eyes.

April 19, 2013

What can communities, agencies and the  governement- all   who are  fighting homeless learn from the Moon?

It was May 25th 1961 and President Kennedy, in a special address to congress on the importance of space announced the goal that before the decade is out , the nation should commit itself to landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to earth.

What an bold statement!  He states” We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share” Lesson 1. Everyone deserves the right to safe and secure housing- as a free people we must fully share.
He goes on to acknowledge; “But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon-if we make this judgement affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. FOR ALL OF US MUST WORK TO PUT HIM THERE.”Lesson 2: A small group of individuals cannot achieve something so monumental- it will take all of us working together.Toward the end of his speech, President Kennedy said” This decision demands a major national commitment of scientific and technical manpower, material and facilities, and the possibility of their diversion from other important activities where they are already thinly spread. It means a degree of dedication, organization and discipline which have not always characterized our research and development efforts” Lesson 3: If it is important enough to do, it is important enough to do right with all the resources needed. Lesson 4: The President set the goal and stated it boldly for all the world to see.

I can’t believe that if we can put a man on the moon and return him safely- we can’t end homelessness.

 

April 15, 2013

Homelessness and Workforce Development

Investing in job training and skills that work to improve the employment status of homeless families presents a huge opportunity for impact. Studies show a return on investment as high as 9.00 per dollar invested! The majority of homeless people who currently are unemployed are working hard to find employment. It is a battle every day to find job opportunities when you are struggling with basic survival such as where will my kids sleep and what will we all eat?  Homelessness carries with it huge barriers to employment. Many people find themselves without education and basic skills to find and keep employment. 

Village of Hope Family Shelter have adults who truly want to “make things better for my kids” and “make a difference by working hard and doing the right thing”. 

April 9, 2013

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Today I heard a comment that really made me step back and think. It was stated by a young mother at Village of Hope “hope and fear can’t exist inside me at the same time- So I just need to have so much hope that it pushes out the fear” Among all the services that we provide  families, we can’t get far if we don’t start with hope.Hope is something that is hard to articulate but you know it when you have it! Hope generally starts very small. I am realizing that hope and trust often go hand in hand. It may start with a little bit of trust and if that trust is not broken it can lead to hope. Hope is very hard to achieve after a lifetime of sadness and mistrust. It is an honor to share the first glimmer of hope with a family and then see it grow more each day. Many times the other families  in the shelter give hope to each other by sharing what has worked for them and giving them encouragement to keep going. Hope is something that can be passed on from generation to generation and I’m grateful that I have the opportunity each day to see our families work hard to make it better for their children.

 

April 5, 2013

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  For families who live in homelessness, It takes an incredible amount of energy to maintain hope against all odds. Hope comes in many forms, it is an advocate looking parents in the eye and telling them that you believe in them and they can make a difference for themselves and their family. It is landlord taking a chance on a family that has made poor choices in the past but now  have the skills to make the right choice and will make the right choice. Hope looks like an employer offering a job to a Mother or Father  so that family can  become productive members of their community. Hope looks like a community member visiting with parents or kids at the shelter and really listening to their story and the things they need to break the cycle of homelessness.

Offer Hope to a homeless family today!

April 3, 2013

Myths about Homelessness

I confess, I believed that all homeless people were lazy and unmotivated and most of them were drunk and on drugs. Then I actually met homeless people and everything I thought I knew about homelessness went right out the window. Homeless families are the biggest growing homeless population. Most of the families we work with want to work and in fact are VERY MOTIVATED to make a better life for themselves and their children. The families that come to Village of Hope don’t want a hand out- they want a hand up. It’s impossible “to pull yourself up by the bootstraps” when you don’t even have boots. Hunger and homelessness are not created because families don’t have enough to eat or no shelter for the night- it involves a variety of unmet physical, emotional  and social needs.  It does indeed take a village to raise a child and that includes children who are the youngest victims of family homelessness.

April 2, 2013

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Do You have your Chairs for Chairity Gala Dinner and Auction tickets  yet? Or, would you like to donate a chair for our auction?  Contact Sandy at 218-751-0722 Ext. 2 to purchase a ticket or donate a chair. This event will be held June 15th at 6pm at the Bemidji Town and Country Club and all proceeds will benefit the children and their families who are experiencing homelessness.

Families homelessness is on the rise. You can help us break the cycle of family homelessness.

 

March 29, 2013

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How YOU can give hope for our families.

1. Volunteer: volunteering your time is the best way to learn about homelessness and meet some incredible people! Think about what you do best and how you can share that with our families- is it organizing, talking, parenting(just to name a few things)

2.Advocate: advocacy is so critical to creating the systems change that we need to end homelessness.Advocacy means learning and understanding and talking to people that make decisions regarding services and supports.

3.Contribute: In kind services such as copying, printing, transportation, computer equipment, building materials or cleaning Supplies. Provide job opportunities by encouraging your company, school or place of worship to hire people experiencing homelessness. Most unemployed homeless adults desparately want to work, but need someone to give them a chance. Support a homeless family move out of a shelter, provide support for a homeless familiy such as babysitting or moral support. Raise funds for our program and attend fundraising and educational events.

Most importantly please don’t look away from a homeless family, smiling or  making eye contact can reaffirm the humanity of a person when life and situations seem to have stripped it away.

Contact me at 218-751-0722 Ext 2 to talk about ways to give hope to families.

Sandy

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March 28, 2013

ImageI am often asked “why do families become homeless?” Family homelessness is caused by a combination of lack of affordable housing, the changing demographics of families, domestic violence, and or  fractured social supports.  Housing costs often outpace wages. Actually, a full time employee earning minimum wage cannot afford even a one bedroom at the Fair Market Rent anywhere in the United States! Nationally, a full time employee must earn 18.32 dollars an hour to afford a two bedroom. Many head of households do not have a high school diploma or GED, therefore their earning potential is very limited. The vast majority of homeless parents what to work but barriers such as transportation, education or life skills prevent them from successfully achieving gainful employement.  Many homeless adults were homless as children.

The second question people ask is “how can I help?” The most important way that you can help is by understanding and getting to know families who are experiencing homelessness. The second most important thing you can do is volunteer to mentor families and support them to achieve their goals and dreams. The last thing is to support a homeless shelter with your money. Emergency Shelters are on the front lines in breaking the cycle of homelessness.