At the 33rd National Convention, two new Project I.M.P.A.C.T. (Individuals Making Progress Across Communities Together) areas were elected by vote of the membership. The winning areas include: Addressing Homelessness and Service to American Veterans and Active Military Personnel.
“No one should experience homelessness— no one should be without a safe, stable place to call home” (United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, FY 2018 Report).
The National Coalition for the Homeless states that over one-third of our country is one to three paychecks away from not making rent or mortgage payments and therefore, at potential risk of homelessness. The term homeless is defined as “a person who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence” (USICH, 2016). Homelessness continues to be an epidemic facing a tremendous number of households within the United States. The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness’ 2016 Annual Homeless Assessment Report lists the following startling statistics:
- Nightly in 2016, 549,928 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States.
- 22% of people experiencing homelessness were children, 9% were between the ages of 18 and 24, and 69% were over the age of 24.
- There were 194,716 people in families with children experiencing homelessness, representing 35% of the homeless population.
- In January 2016, 39,471 veterans were experiencing homelessness.
- There were 35,686 unaccompanied homeless youth in January 2016. 11% of those youth are under 18 years old.
- Nine in ten children experiencing homelessness were staying in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs.
Gamma Sigma Sigma chapters can view additional facts relating to homelessness as well as obtain detailed information for their respective state by visiting this USICH link: Tell Me More About Homeless in My GSS State.
The Project I.M.P.A.C.T. area “Addressing Homelessness” includes educational awareness and advocacy service activities related to decreasing homelessness; creating opportunities to empower transition from homelessness to permanent housing; providing support to individuals and families experiencing homelessness; and partnering with organizations whose work is geared toward these aforementioned goals.
- United States Interagency Council on Homelessness
- The National Coalition for the Homeless
- National Alliance to End Homelessness
Project Ideas Include:
- Participate in the Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week (November 11-19, 2017) at HHAW.
- Bring service providers under one roof for a homelessness fair.
- Create “pop-up” booths that meet an immediate need (food, clothing, resources).
- Volunteer your professional services.
- Volunteer at a shelter.
- Volunteer for follow-up programs (budgeting, counseling, support).
- Volunteer at a battered women’s shelter.
- Take homeless children on trips.
- Create and gather lists of needed donations for organizations who serve the homeless.
- Help cook, serve a meal, or distribute food at a homeless shelter or food bank.
- Donate toys to a local shelter.
- Spend time with and/or tutor homeless children.
- Gather clothing and donate it to a local shelter.
- Make kits with combs, toothbrushes, shampoo, etc. for homeless people.
- Partner with the local food bank in your area. If your community doesn’t have a food bank, work with local officials to start one.
- Develop a plan for reducing hunger and homelessness in your community. Share and implement it.
- Organize a neighborhood group to plant, tend, and harvest a vegetable garden. Donate the produce to a food bank.
- Obtain and distribute fast food certificates to the homeless.
- Donate proceeds from craft, garage, and yard sales.
- Give “Welcome Home” kits (cups, plates, towels, etc.) to support transition to housing.
SERVICE TO AMERICAN VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY PERSONNEL
Our military personnel continue to be deployed multiple times over the years to overseas countries that may not have an official base. Military personnel leave behind family and friends as well as personal comfort. Once discharged or retired, military veterans face numerous obstacles after service to our country.
The Project I.M.P.A.C.T. area, “Service to American Veterans and Active Military Personnel,” includes, but not limited to, sending personal care packages, making cards, hosting a fundraiser to raise money for sending packages, building relationships with veterans, and working with local veterans’ organizations.
FACT: Approximately 800,000 veterans are currently unemployed.
FACT: There are approximately 39,471 homeless veterans.
Although flawless counts are impossible to come by, the transient nature of homeless populations presents a major difficulty. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 39,471 veterans are homeless on any given night.
The following link has a long list of organizations you can partner with to work with veterans: https://www.militaryveteranproject.org/military-resources.html
Other organizations include:
- American Legion
- America Wants You
- Fischer House Foundation
- Hire Heroes USA
- Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
- Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
- National Association of American Veterans (NAAV)
- Save a Suit
- Veterans Support Organization (VSO)
- Wounded Warrior Project
- Welcome Back Vets
- Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund
- Cell Phones for Soldiers
- United We Serve
- Blue Star Fam
- Operation Appreciation
- Veteran Green Jobs
Project ideas include:
- Help build homes for veterans. Team up with other organizations or hold a fundraiser to donate.
- Hold a fundraiser and donate the money to a local veterans’ organization.
- Help with resume writing, practice interviewing skills, and building other professional skills.
- Host a mental health awareness day, specialized for veterans.
Volunteer at a nursing home, VA hospital, or veterans’ home.
- Send care packages. Create cards to send to troops.
- Create a veterans’ spot on campus and stock it with supplies and food.
- Complete beautification projects at a veterans’ cemetery and/or a VA hospital.
- Volunteer to place and remove flags on veterans’ graves.
- Hold a cell phone drive. Staying in touch with loved ones while abroad is key to survival, though the costs of calling home from Afghanistan or Iraq are incredibly high.
- Host a party for local veterans.
- Hold a book drive to donates books to soldiers’ families.
- General Volunteer Opportunities: Not sure how to get involved? The Department of Veteran Affairs can help by setting up volunteer opportunities at veteran centers or connecting you to other non-profits in your area.