This week, donate, educate to end homelessness

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, November 14, 2017

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving next week, now is the time when many begin thinking about what they are thankful for, particularly over the past year.

While we take time to celebrate the many things we are grateful for this month, it is also a perfect time to consider those who are less fortunate and share our compassion with our neighbors experiencing homelessness and hunger.

Each year, the week prior to the Thanksgiving holiday is set aside as National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. This year, it is recognized Nov. 11-19 as a chance to contribute to the national social movement toward a world where no one has to experience homelessness or hunger.

Email newsletter signup

Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is an annual program facilitated by the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) where people come together across the country to draw attention to the problems of hunger and homelessness. Many groups spend the week holding a series of educational, service, fundraising and advocacy events.

Many people are homeless because of circumstances beyond their control, from high rent costs, lost jobs, domestic abuse, medical issues, unexpected car issues and more.

According to NCH, many Americans are living on the edge, forced to choose between basic necessities like purchasing food, paying rent or going to the doctor.

In America, 43.1 million people live below the poverty line; 549,000 are homeless on a typical night; 42 million are at risk of suffering from hunger and 1 in 5 children live in poverty. Worldwide, 767 million people live on $1.90 a day or less and 65.3 million refugees have been driven out of their homes.

“As a society, we have the resources and knowledge to end hunger and homelessness — we just need the collective will to make these ideas a reality,” according to NCH.

NCH encourages people to volunteer, donate and educate about the cause this week. There are many opportunities to do that here in Clark County.

Our community is lucky to have two core groups working to fight homelessness in our community — the Clark County Homeless Coalition and the Beacon of Hope Emergency Shelter.

The Clark County Homeless Coalition was founded in 2009 to address the unmet needs of the homeless population in our rural area. In 2011, the first ever homeless shelter in Winchester, Wainscott Hall, was opened as one of a few shelters in the state that provides services to families. CCHC serves individuals and families from Clark, Powell, Estill and Montgomery counties by providing a safe place to stay, food and other basics, while addressing their varied needs.

The Beacon of Hope Emergency Shelter provides homeless families and individuals access to overnight and short-term shelter, access to safety net support services, nutritious meals throughout the day, access to crisis intervention counseling, help with employment and life-skills training, housing search and placement assistance and individual and family therapy.

This week, take some time to familiarize yourself with these agencies. Schedule a time to visit the facilities to learn how they are serving local families in need.

While you are there ask about how you can get involved — whether that means donating your time or your money. Even a one-time donation or a couple hours per month can make a big difference for these agencies that operate almost entirely on donations and the people they serve.

And once you have done that, consider spreading the word about the need in our community and worldwide, not just this week but all year long.