Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Can We REALLY End Homelessness?

"We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee." - Marian Wright Edelman

I was at lunch with a friend recently, chatting away about the Tri to End Homelessness campaign, when she asked "Can we REALLY end homelessness?". In short, my answer was YES. Yes, we can. Yes, you can.

As a triathlete, I've experienced the long-term difference in my endurance and racing times that comes as a result of connecting all of the little training choices I make every day. The same is true with social change. Although, it's often tough to see how today's small actions contribute to tomorrow's revolution, they do - and it's simply our job to keep the faith. Here's 10 things YOU can do today to end homelessness:

10 Things You Can Do

1. Learn about homelessness and educate others. Reading the Tri to End Homelessness blog is a great start! Why not email the blog link to a few friends?
2. Support the development of affordable housing. Here in North Carolina the NC Housing Coalition is working to ensure that we all have access to safe, decent, and affordable places to live.
3. Contact your local elected officials and ask them what they are doing to support homeless children and families. Ask for their support of local initiatives and programs. Ask them to establish a Plan to End Homelessness in your community. In the Triangle, you can read about each of our 10-year Plans to End Homelessness HERE.
4. Volunteer at a local shelter - no matter what you do for a living, you can help the homeless with your on-the-job talents and skills.
5. Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
6. Donate groceries, toys and money to local homeless shelters.
7. Donate leftover food and flowers from catered events.
8. Become a landlord to a family that is transitioning out of a homeless shelter.
9. Help a family move or provide "house warming gifts" such as linens, dishes, pots and pans, small appliances and lamps for children, youth and families who are moving out of the shelter and into their own homes.
10. Ask local television stations to schedule educational programs on homelessness. Your encouragement and praise of such programs can keep them on the air.

...and (my favorite) #11: Make a donation to Genesis Home. Our local organization that is ending homelessness one family at a time.