invisible homeless kids

Hard to imagine that in this country way over 1,500,000 kids are without homes. H-O-M-E-L-E-S-S Kids. I don't get it. Are we willing to discard these kids? Not me. So this blog will relentlessly focus on this issue, hoping to light a spark to fuel a compassion epidemic. Chime in, argue, but do something....

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Gift of Education for Homeless & Foster Care Kids

Try to imagine having no home, and/or no parents. For millions of kids in this country, this is a devastating, regular experience. Frequently it means being ripped from school--the one stability in kids' lives. And you, my friend, are in a position to give an invaluable gift to these kids! NO MONEY needed!
Way over 1.5 million kids in this country are homeless, some with/without parents. Almost a million more are in the often dysfunctional foster care system. For these kids, educational access and stability is vital.
Fortunately, hard-working advocates and enlightened members of Congress have created and just (11/09) introduced 2 important pieces of legislation:
  • Educational Success for Children without Homes Act of 2009 (S. 2800), and
  • Fostering Success in Education Act of 2009 (S. 2801)
I can only imagine what things are like in Congress as the "big" issues get hashed over. Probably worse than Black Friday mobs. Frankly, I'm happy to be out here in California now, getting ready to film some Learning Curve Express interviews in Sacramento. But I know that these 2 bills, just introduced in the Senate, will have better chances to pass if we can rattle the cages of our senators now.

Sure, you're busy. Holidays and all that stuff. If you take a moment to contact your Senators, I can guarantee a few things:
  • You won't die from it! In fact, you might feel like you've done something worthwhile.
  • You'll be among a small group of crazy dedicated advocates fighting for these obscure, yet critically important issues.
  • Homeless kids, and kids in foster care, will be much better off for a chance to succeed in school. Think of it as your gift for them!
You don't need to be an expert. All the info you need is available on the HEAR US website, thanks to my good friend and ultra-awesome advocate Barbara Duffield of NAEHCY.

Seems to me that the happiest people I know are the ones that take time to do something for others. Get yourself set up on Open Congress.org, and follow the prompts to contact your Senators. Or sign and circulate this HEAR US petition. You'll be giving an invaluable gift to kids for years to come, and you don't have to stand in line!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Raising Awareness Gains Momentum!

This is the last day of the Paso Robles Film Festival where our film, My Own Four Walls, which gives voice and visibility to homeless kids, was screened. Being invited to share this short piece with the audience, which includes digital streaming, is a great opportunity!

I will make my way to Sacramento, where homeless families and teens will share their stories with me about living doubled-up and in motels for our Learning Curve Express project. They don't get counted as homeless, but they are. They've lost housing due to hardships, and typically live nomadic stress-filled lifestyles that make it all but impossible to get back on their feet.

To get an idea of what I'm doing, check out this news clip that originated on Fox Chicago last Friday. It got picked up by the Huffington Post and is getting broad coverage.

And here's a great idea if you would like to help raise the visibility of poverty and homelessness on the Internet. A cyber-friend, Jan, is promoting a simple, but effective, way to begin to tilt the scales on behalf of homeless and poor people in this country. Check out her blog.

Seems to me that as we pour billions of government and private dollars into dubious causes and projects, the crumbs from the table could go a long way to ease what is real suffering for the ever-increasing numbers of homeless families and teens in America. Don't tell me we don't have the money for this. The only shortage is political will.

photo by the author

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Adults Struggle, Kids Suffer

No surprise, a recent NYT article describes behind-the-walls suffering when a parent is under/unemployed. Think of how many households are in that crisis. Then we'll think about the families who don't even have a house, or are in process of losing theirs.

Never in my 25 years of working on the issue of homelessness have I seen economic and systemic failures leaving millions facing peril. Homelessness is a "mere" symptom. We've been totally distracted by the hyper-focus on the issues de jour, ignoring the fact that millions of Americans face catastrophic realities each day. Poverty, with its octopus-like tentacles sucking life from the majority of our country, needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

I'm one week into a 26+ week backroads tour of our country, the LEARNING CURVE EXPRESS, to let homeless families and teens who don't make the federal definition of homeless by some ill-conceived bureaucratic standard share their stories. It's been an inspiring, dismaying process so far. Check the short interviews on the LCE site. Share them with your networks.

Seems to me if we have the supposed vast social networking capabilities, we should be able to make it work for us. Hopefully fund-raising will pick up--because the 3 grant request reject letters we received before I shoved off don't bode well for foundation support. HEAR US has accomplished lots in our 4 years of this unconventional approach to advocacy. With more and more people falling into the vortex of poverty, we have our work cut out for us. Join us!