Philanthropic Corporations Provide Homeless Help

Non-Profits Profit From Profitable Corporations’ Philanthropy

Even with the current economic woes, some international corporations have discovered their philanthropic efforts engender customer approval and loyalty.

Corporate philanthropy is when a profit-making corporation supports the efforts of non-profits by providing money, equipment, or staff. It’s not a new idea, it’s just that companies are looking for new ways to improve their image while increasing customer satisfaction and faithfulness.

Corporations Provide Many Different Kinds of Philanthropic Paths

Employee matching funds are one of the ways that companies help non-profits. For every dollar an employee donates to an approved organization, his or her employer will double it. Some companies will multiply it, giving two or three dollars to each one contributed by the employee. Many companies offer this as a payroll deduction plan.

Another way of doling out money is charity grants. They are often awarded based on a grant application package. An eligible non-profit must complete the grant application and then patiently wait. Some companies review the applications in house.

The Walt Disney Company has been supporting charities for more than 60 years. Cast members — the Disney name for employees — who want to help with company-sponsored charitable efforts are called VoluntEARS. They serve many kinds of charitable needs, but they help the homeless in two specific ways: working with local homeless care providers they have holiday parties, and employees make CarePacks for the homeless.

Homeless Help as a Strategic Plan not Just a Sense of Social Responsibility

Not all corporate philanthropy is based on heartstrings that have been tugged. Harvard Business School’s Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness teaches corporations to approach philanthropy from a strategic perspective.

An affiliated organization, The Center for Effective Philanthropy, states on their website that their mission is to, “Provide data and create insight so philanthropic funders can better define, assess, and improve their effectiveness and impact.“

It’s not surprising with such advice that some large corporations prefer to funnel their philanthropic efforts through their own foundation. In 2009 the following organizations — a partial list — dished out millions to help the homeless:

  • The healthcare giant, Kaiser Permanente,
  • Wal-Mart Foundation, and in addition, employees through the State Councils donated more than 90 million pounds of food,
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,
  • Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust,
  • Pohlad Family Foundation, and
  • Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

See the current issue of the online Philanthropy News Digest to learn who is giving what to which charity.

Hands-on Corporate Sponsorship is a Significant Factor in Help for the Homeless

Like many other Seattle corporations, employees from Microsoft take over the Seattle Operation Nightwatch kitchen to prepare dinner for 200 or more hungry homeless people once a month. Cooking, serving, cleaning up, or paying for the food — everybody can help. Local companies also donate funds to help with the costs of providing bedding.

To meet the increasing need for homeless housing in the San Diego area, a combination of faith-based organizations, social groups and the City of Vista combined forces to create Operation Hope Vista. An old warehouse was rented and rehabilitated and each winter provides housing for up to 49 people.

One of the things that makes this shelter unique is that it is only for families. One or both parents with at least one child can be assigned a permanent space where they may live the entire cold season; if, they follow the shelter rules. This permanency allows the children to attend local schools, build and maintain friendships, and have a social life while the parents work or look for a job.

A San Francisco organization supporting the homeless, Glide Memorial Methodist Church was featured in the 2006 hit movie, “The Pursuit of Happiness”. The church offers a variety of services to poor and marginalized people.

In many cities, international faith-based, non-profit organizations like The Salvation Army and Catholic Charities provide free resources ranging from meals to housing, job training to used clothing.

Homeless Children, Countries’ New Generation

This article will show how the face of the homeless population has changed over the past 3 years and hopefully bring attention to this social disease.

Companies who have outsourced their work to other countries, the struggling U.S. economy and many other factors have created more homeless families in America than ever thought possible. During the great depression, there were 250,000 homeless children and today that number is staggering.

Like most 55-year-old Americans I grew up in a society where the homeless person was easily identified. He, in most cases, was the one sleeping on the park bench, wearing filthy clothes or reeking of alcohol and begging for spare change. My parents always cautioned me to watch for those people. “Don’t give them your money ’cause they are nothing but drunks and bums”, my dad would say. Little did I know that later in my life those people would change my life forever.

There have always been homeless people in the United States and throughout the World. There are always people becoming homeless from an earthquake, flood, or some other natural disaster. It is at that point when our government like many others will pour money into these disaster-stricken areas which makes us all feel better since we did the right thing.

In the United States, however, people who may have some sort of mental illness or people with drug or alcohol addictions, and others who just won’t strive to make a better life for themselves, and of course those just down on their luck have been homeless and continue to be homeless. Unfortunately, in this country, in this day and age, all those people just mentioned who have been pigeonholed as failures since the beginning of time has even more obstacles to overcome. Now they have to share their morsels of food, their bridges and underpasses, their cold and wet cardboard boxes with the most unlikely American people to be homeless……children.

23% of all homeless people are children

Children account for more than 23% of homeless people in this country today. I’m sure you are asking yourself, how can that be? Children are in a situation they have no control over. The children didn’t find it trendy one day to ask Mom and Dad to go to sleep outside and give up all their possessions. Children are homeless due to families losing their housing from job cuts and mortgages the family can no longer afford.

We live in a country that gives billions of American dollars to countries overseas to assist them with their local economy yet there are more than 10,000 people in this country who have no place to sleep or no food to eat on a daily basis. In 2007 the homeless population in this country was 3,500,000 people which to me seems impossible to comprehend and yet now that number has more than tripled in 3 years. Does our current administration not see these people, or do they not care?

We are talking about families with children. These are your neighbors, friends, family members, we are talking about. This is no longer an issue we can just ignore and hope it goes away. I personally think this may hit closer to home than we are comfortable with. Statistics and research have proven most Americans are only one or two missed paychecks away from bankruptcy.

So what do we do now? Do we pretend children in this country are not homeless? We all see the work large agencies are doing to assist as many homeless people as they can and we think, they’ll be OK. Did you know that most homeless shelters are full every night and millions of people are turned away, including children?

Children can be taken away from the family

Did you know if you call some agencies for help and tell them your children are cold due to you not having heat, that same agency may take your children from you and place them in a better environment? At a time when all the family has left is one another would you like to have your children taken from you? Did you know that in some agencies your 11-year-old son has to be placed with the single men even if they have room for your family? Think of it, your 11-year-old son is already frightened and he is going to be away from his Mom and sisters, sleeping in a dorm room where there may be as many as 15 grown men, some of which have drug and alcohol addictions. How does that make you feel? Still, want your government to give your tax dollars away to other countries?

The next time you see a person begging for money or assistance, ask yourself are they really homeless? We all shy away from giving people money but what about offering to buy them a sandwich. What about taking a few minutes out of our busy day to ask them if they have a family, or suggest a nearby shelter. Make yourself take the time to learn where the nearby shelters are and get involved.

The face of the homeless has changed from the scruffy man sleeping on the park bench and the next time you look in a mirror the face of the homeless may be……….yours!

Charities Helping the Homeless in the U.S.

How Organizations Work to Stop Homelessness All Over America

No one really wants to become homeless. Learn about the charities that are doing something to help people who fall victim to homelessness in the United States.

Charities that help the homeless are an act of benevolence and love towards mankind. Those who contribute to such worthy causes are generally referred to as philanthropists (people who promote human welfare). These charities can be church-based, non-profit organizations, community centers, and also government-funded shelters. Learn more about charities helping the homeless in this overview of their function and place in society.

Functions of Charities Who Help the Homeless

The function of charities that help the homeless is to provide people with the basic necessities they need to sustain life as the first priority. This is done through soup kitchens, shelters, as well as provide them safety by taking them off the streets.

These organizations also work to help the homeless train for jobs. This is done through free workshops and job fairs. In addition, charities helping the homeless will sometimes offer to counsel for people who have become addicted to drugs and alcohol, as many homeless people have.

Another function of these charities is providing medical care. The clinics set up to help the homeless are free, and while health professionals often times cannot provide surgical and pharmaceutical help, they can help with most common illnesses, such as colds, cuts and bruises, and other common ailments. Some charities even have counselors who will help people dealing with mental illness. Mental illness sufferers compromise a majority of the homeless in the United States.

Misconceptions of Charities Helping the Homeless

Many people think that charities helping the homeless are able to provide for every need that a homeless person has, but this simply is not true. They usually operate under donations given to them, either by individuals or companies or even through fundraisers. Because of this, they find it hard to provide for every need because of lack of funds.

Another misconception that some people have about these charities is that the money you donate does not even go to the cause. They do rely on monetary donations. But, donations do not necessarily have to be monetary in nature. Some charities will accept non-perishable foods, blankets, clothing, and other items that will help the homeless. Those interested in making a donation to any charity should do research about where the funds will go before deciding on what charity to support.

Another limitation that some charities face, especially smaller ones, is the inability to provide for everyone in the community. They are only able to serve a certain number of homeless individuals because of a lack of supplies or food being donated to the cause. Ultimately, some people have to be turned away, and this is often difficult for anyone volunteering with a charity for the homeless.

Types of Charities that Help the Homeless

There are different types of charities that help the homeless. Some larger organizations are able to focus on the broad needs of homeless people, while other organizations may concentrate solely on feeding the poor to meet their daily food requirements. Still, other charities gather volunteers who are willing to actually build houses for the homeless or meet some other physical need that is urgent. There are also volunteers who talk with homeless people on the streets to provide some company, if only for a while. There are charities that cater specifically to women and children, or just to men. It all adds up to people helping people, and the realization that working together makes things happen for the better.

These charities understand that homelessness has been a problem for centuries, and will continue to be a plague in our society for years to come. The collective mission of these organizations is not focused on putting an end to poverty and the other causes of homelessness, but to let the people who fall into this situation know that someone wants to offer them a hand-up and not shun them from society forever. One person and one family at a time, these charities are making a difference in thousands of peoples’ lives each day.

 

Advocates Say Homeless Need Protection

Group Argues That Crimes Against The Homeless Should Be Hate Crime

The number of attacks on the homeless seems to be down, but the violence of the attacks are going up. Advocates say these attacks should be counted as hate crimes.

Advocates for the homeless say that attacks on the visibly homeless may not be on the rise, but they are getting worse. California and Florida share a dubious distinction among the states by being home to the most attacks on the homeless. California had 30 and Florida had 22. Other states trail in the single digits. The statistics have been kept since 1999. Advocates for the homeless say that the homeless are being attacked because of who they are, and that makes it a hate crime. These advocates say that while the attacks may be on the rise, they are getting more violent and the offenders are getting younger. Younger offenders greater intensity of crimes.

Attacks On The Homeless By The Young

Michael Stoops, Executive Director for the National Coalition of the Homeless, says the economic downturn is making the homeless more visible. In California, anti-vagrancy laws make it difficult for the homeless in California to gather in parks. Stoops tells the Sacramento Bee:

“There’s just absolutely no place in California you can go without coming upon a visible homeless population unless you’re in the parks.” He also says, “attacks are getting more serious, with more bodily harm…People think they can hurt a homeless person because no one will care, and they won’t fight back.”

The homeless are also somewhat wary of dealing with police because of anti-vagrancy laws. The very homelessness that makes them vulnerable could put them in violation of the law. The enforcement of anti-vagrancy laws has been stepped up in recent years.

The attacks in California vary in type and intensity. Some of the attacks include being pelted with objects to burnings. One man was blinded by young people with a paintball gun. These attacks are often perpetrated by people in their 20s and younger. Some of the attacks have even been filmed by the attacker. Advocates say that homeless are entitled to special protection because of their vulnerability.

Making Attacks On The Homeless A Hate Crime

This past legislative session, US Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas and Robert Wexler, of Florida both Democrats. The legislation would add homelessness as a category in keeping hate crimes statistics. The National Coalition for the Homeless says in a flier promoting the law:

“The Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act is important legislation to monitor hate crimes against homeless people. Unfortunately, current legislation does not monitor crimes against people experiencing homelessness, a population group of victims that are also experiencing a pattern of intentional bias-based selection.”

The flier also asks people to report such crimes to their lawmakers.

Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol Awareness Month is observed in April. This presents an opportunity to raise awareness of the abuse of alcohol and to encourage people to think for their health and make safe choices.

Alcohol Awareness Month, observed in April, serves as a time to educate the public on alcohol and its dangers while encouraging people to make wise decisions.

Alcohol, a Very Dangerous Drug

Alcohol and alcoholic beverages are grouped under drugs called depressants. Depressants are drugs which alter the function of the central nervous system by affecting neurons there. This results in symptoms such as drowsiness, lack of facial expression and slurred speech among many other things. Alcohol itself has many detrimental effects on the body. Long term effects of alcohol abuse include pancreatitis and liver disease.

Although alcohol can be so harmful, it is still one of the most abused legal drugs in the world. It is therefore fitting that the public is made aware of the consequences of alcohol abuse during Alcohol Awareness month. Alcohol affects everybody, be it directly or indirectly. It is necessary then, that everyone is knowledgeable of the problems brought about by alcohol abuse, as well as the solutions to those problems.

Facts about Alcohol Abuse

Many people are aware that alcohol is dangerous but do not know exactly how much danger alcohol already poses to society. Here are some statistics according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism(NIAAA) and The Alcohol and Drug Addiction Help Center:

  • Almost fourteen million Americans, that is one in every thirteen adults, are alcohol abusers. Less than 25% of these get necessary treatment every year.
  • Approximately one in four children who are younger than eighteen have been exposed to alcohol abuse.
  • People who are starting with drinking before being 15 years old are 4 times likely to be dependent on alcohol in comparison to people who begin drinking at the age of twenty or older.
  • Underage drinking is more likely to kill young people than illegal drugs. About five U.S students die each day as a result of alcohol-related injuries.
  • Alcoholism is the third leading cause of preventable death in America, causing the death of about 85 000 Americans every year.
  • About seventy-five percent of abusive husband or wives have been drinking prior to or at the time of the abuse
  • Fetal Alcoholic Spectrum Disorders(FASD) are the leading preventable cause of birth defects in the U.S.
  • A quarter of all admissions to the emergency rooms, a third of all committed suicides and more than half of all homicides or any kind of incidents including domestic violence are alcohol-related.

Alcoholism is quickly destroying society. Thankfully, there are many advocates who promote and alcohol-free society such as the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Center, NIAAA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). These people and organizations try their best to create public awareness, especially during alcohol awareness month, of the threat of alcoholism and the ways by which it can be stopped.

 

For the Homeless There’s No Place Like Shelter

Homelessness Needs a Solution, Volunteers are Part of It

A nice fire, hot cocoa, popcorn and a DVD on TV – these are the reasons many people enjoy winter. Yet, for homeless people, winter is a time of extreme hardship.

There are three main types of homelessness: chronic, temporary or transitional, and episodic. This article focuses mainly on temporarily homeless and how to help homeless charities.

Common Misconceptions About the Homeless

During the downturn of the U.S. and world economies, catastrophic events have resulted in more and more middle-class citizens living out of their cars. Contrary to popular belief, many homeless people have jobs. They may have maxed-out credit cards and checking accounts but cannot afford to pay a deposit plus the first month’s rent that most landlords require.

Temporary homelessness is more common than chronic homelessness which is often a result of a mental illness like psychosis or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Transitional or temporary homelessness can result from many situations including:

  • loss of a job
  • divorce
  • family issues (especially with runaway teens)
  • medical issues and the ensuing costs
  • death of a care provider

It’s not just the rich who fancy warmer climates when the cold winds blow. Thousands of homeless people migrate south each winter. Workers in the social services network of San Diego, a city with year-round moderate temperatures, complain about the influx of transient homeless people. Because of the temperate climate, there’s often a shortage of funding for homeless housing during the colder months.

What is Being Done to Help Homeless People?

Under bridges, on sewer vents, riding a bus or subway, near electrical transformers – in freezing weather, homeless people look for any place that is a bit warmer or protected from the wind to try to sleep. The lucky ones get a bed — sometimes no more than a mat on a cold floor — inside a building. Across the country, churches, hospitals, government institutions, and former military barracks provide housing to distressed people needing shelter.

Seattle staff members at Operation Nightwatch, a charity that helps the homeless, beg providers for additional bed space for cold clients. This year the need is greater but cash donations have been down. Rick Reynolds, the executive director, tells what his organization does in only twenty words! “We get people off the street, into a shelter, and started on the path of recovery every night of the year.”

Pastor Rick, as he is called by the street people he serves, is a master of understatement. His blog tells many homeless stories.

How Can One Individual Person or a Family Help Solve the Problem of Homelessness?

 

There are many ways one person can make a difference. Pooling the resources of many people and helping homeless charities which are already helping the homeless increases their effectiveness. Volunteers are the lifeblood of non-profit organizations. Local churches and social organizations often have food pantries and clothing cupboards to help needy people. Unpaid workers are needed to help receive, inventory, and distribute donations.

Donate good used items like shoes, clothing, and blankets. If there isn’t a charity for the homeless that can use your donation, give it to a non-profit thrift store where it is turned into cash. Remember to make an itemized list of the donations and get a receipt. Cash (check) gifts are always welcomed. Check with a tax expert to verify the deductibility of any donation.

In San Francisco, St. Anthony’s Foundation provides three meals a day for the needy people in its community. Guests are not required to be homeless, just hungry. St. Anthony’s celebrated serving more than 35 million meals in 2009 but it would not have happened without volunteers. Workers there can always use another pair of hands helping in the kitchen or dining room. Older children are welcome to assist also.

Allowing children over the age of ten or twelve to help charities can be a character building experience. It teaches young people far better than words that not everyone has the advantages and blessings that they enjoy. Regular volunteer work with a parent can become the highlight of a child’s month giving them a sense of adding value to their community. Many organizations are less concerned with the volunteer’s qualifications than their willingness to get involved.

Many people feel inclined to help during the holidays, but donations and volunteers are needed year ‘round. One shelter worker said, “After the apathy during the rest of the year, the holiday influx of do-gooders is often overwhelming for our clients.”

No matter how a person chooses to become involved in solving the problem of homelessness, it helps. Working towards a solution to a social problem of such magnitude is proof of the truth of the old maxim, “Many hands make light work.”