Look in the eyes of this child and make a silent promise to do SOMETHING to make life better for kids in your community.HEAR US Inc. strives to create a compassion epidemic for homeless children/youth in every community. You are cordially invited to learn more and do more.
As we near the end of 2012, and I'm rolling in my 8th year of a challenging but rewarding cross-country sojourn, here are some important observations from my travels....
- Homelessness among families/youth is soaring. Despite the hugely questionable data being touted by HUD and a national homelessness group, showing homelessness going down (based on dubious survey methods and an even worse definition of homelessness), every indication shows millions of invisible families and youth bearing the brunt of this brutally unequal economy.
- Efforts to help homeless families and youth are severely strained. I've yet to hear one organization say anything like--we've got it under control, we have lots of resources, our numbers are dropping, our donations are soaring.
- The safety net does not exist in any meaningful way in any community. That's right. The myth that we have a safety net is a myth.
- Babies and toddlers are the upcoming homeless student population. By the hundreds of thousands (I fear even more), the Littlest Nomads are being neglect in the prime of their development cycle. They'll show up at school doors unprepared and unable to succeed.
- Record numbers of homeless kids are moving into adulthood. Sure, some kids will succeed and be independent and productive, but the odds are perilously stacked against them.
- A different paradigm is needed. Communities are dutifully dusting off the old tried and failed version of HUD's 10 year plan to end homelessness for round 2. They have to, in order to get HUD funding, but it's far past time for a new approach that doesn't ignore/discount/dismiss the needs of the majority of the homeless population--families and youth.
- Thinking that homeless families and youth can make it on their own is hogwash. Not to dismiss the gallant efforts and stellar abilities of an untold number of house-less parents and kids, but the deck is so significantly stacked against them that it's an unfair fight. Housing assistance wait lists, debt and police record barriers, skyrocketing unemployment, shrinking health services, and diminishing child care are just a few obstacles to success.
Most important (ACTION!), third:
This is no time to wimp out. The old adage, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going" needs to kick into gear big time.
- Newly (re)elected members of Congress need serious work to do. These homeless families and youth are their constituents, albeit a tad powerless. Local efforts can change that. Involve their local office in this unaddressed issue.
- Legislators are clueless as to the scope of homelessness in their communities.
- Give them a copy of My Own Four Walls (dvd), on the edge: Family Homelessness in America (dvd), or host a screening in your community and make sure they're in the audience. (preview short trailers on our website, http://hearus.us) Anyone in the audience--from parents without homes to parents with more than adequate homes-- can benefit.
- Let them know you think this issue is vital. Invite them to visit and volunteer at local shelters, if your community has them.
- We can all do something to help. See above.
It's time for a compassion epidemic in every community across this great land. The only thing stopping us is us.
- Check the discussion guides on the HEAR US website. All designed to inform and inspire.
- Kids experience trauma all the time. It's up to the rest of us to help them cope with the hand they've been dealt. Here's one resource. But remember, it's how we treat the kids around us that can create a ripple effect of compassion.
Whatever fuels your determination to make a difference in your community, thereby creating a ripple of compassion, joining with like-minded persons across the land...well, it's time. Compassion epidemic, catch it!