Most adults regularly yearn for their youth, where days were simple, responsibilities were straightforward, and the future did not feel burdensome. Unrealistic as it may sound, the ability to look back and have pleasant and carefree memories is what we should all aspire to have.
When a childhood is protected and children are nurtured, they tend to become an adult who can make sense of the world at every stage in life. They realize the importance of and contribute to their #communities and go on to be members of society who can confidently make decisions, rectify mistakes, and make the most of the opportunities available to them.
However, when they experience extreme #instability and #isolation, their hurdles become higher and their innocence is taken from them forever. We know this is exactly the case for families and children experiencing short and long term homelessness.
We established Community Reach to address the real and devastating reality of homelessness in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, and Polk Counties. The pandemic almost doubled the number of children in the school system who needed assistance with essentials that would typically be provided by a housed family. And although we are seeing better days when it comes to the pandemic, the loss of lives and assets has left a devastating mark that will take a while to erase.
As a society, we have a limited understanding of what leads a family to homelessness and an even more limited urgency to help out effectively. Before people are stranded and without a home, they undergo many stages of #financialnegotiation and have to make decisions about what to hold on to and what to let go of. Often, they choose to stay in their school districts and keep their jobs so that they can experience as little disruption as possible.
The process is a gradual and demoralizing one that undermines financial gains, corrodes motivation, and pushes families into dark cycles of poverty.
For the young people experiencing this, the impact can be long lasting. Children cannot always conceive of what it takes to build and maintain a life. They are concerned with experiencing everything for the first time and discovering the wonder of the world. So you can imagine how confusing it becomes when their routine in disturbed frequently, hygiene compromised severely, and social settings limited to public and communal places.
Although homelessness is more common than we are willing to admit, it can feel deeply personal and humiliating-especially for the adults. Our society places heavy emphasis on the fact that adults have a sole responsibility to meet every need their families have, even though that is not completely the case.
Perhaps that is why so many keep it to themselves until one of two things happen: either they recover and manage to bounce back up or their circumstance pushes them into full view of #socialsecurity programs.
We can tell you that on a personal basis, we #donated to many causes and maintained contact with fellow #volunteers but the need became hard to ignore.
Even with a heart to serve, we took the time to understand this problem from two perspectives; that of those experiencing homesleesness and those who have been working with them on the ground.
We partnered with other non-profit organizations to design extensive programs that cater to the full needs of adults and children, particularly when they are facing the instability of homelessness.
We landed on three programmes that we believe meet present and future needs of the homeless, adults and children alike.
The first is our #mobileoutreach which caters to the everyday essentials that become novelties when you are homeless. We assess their health needs and family setup and provide as much of their essentials for up to a year.
The second addresses the asset they lost and the comfort they are fighting to regain; #housing. We help match them to temporary shelter and get them on programmes for permanent housing. For those with jobs, their documentation can be helpful in this process, but should they be unemployed and in need of employment that caters to their health and intellectual needs, we gladly help them find stable jobs.
We might take it for granted, but our jobs are a big part of our identity. We leave institutions of learning and begin measuring our skills and social standing by the remuneration we get. As time passes, the progress, stagnation, or regression we experience begins to form part of our identity. We suddenly move from ‘having potential to be anything’ to ‘this is all I have to offer’- that shift in mindset can be life altering.
Recognizing the importance of a job beyond making ends meet, we make sure to equip them with opportunities to earn and impact their young ones.
Our third program is #educational. We make it a point to offer education and life skills. By safeguarding schooling and exploration, we affirm our belief that all children deserve a chance to succeed in school. On any given day, you can #volunteer with us to facilitate classes on financial literacy, budgeting, and more.
Every dollar, donated item, job placement, or class conducted allows us to provide a covering over the homeless and safety net under them so that they do not sink further than they are and can begin building their lives. Which is why we always follow up with our families for up to a year after they are permanently placed.
To help family members adjust after the shock that homelessness can bring on, we provide monthly access to care packages, counseling, and letters of encouragement written by our wide network of supporters.
If we want children who will look kindly on their childhood and adults who will do the same with kind nostalgia and not shame, then we need to invest in offering the homeless dignity, safe shelter, a virtual home in our communities, and a home they can look forward to returning to.
Help us give these children and their families kind memories to look back on by donating financial resources to our cause on www.communityreach.com
You can also trade valuable skills and time towards any of our programs on the same web location.
And if you live far or are cash strapped, but have a heart for the young people who have been thrust into the depths of instability, write them an encouraging letter and send it to us.
Our team is also reachable on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our village helped us build this organization back in 2021 and we hope to offer homeless adults and children people to trust and a community they can belong to.