ARE YOU GUILTY…
Of Judging What Homelessness Looks Like?
Take a good look around the inside of your car. Now imagine living in it with 3 young children.
I know of a young lady who lived this way for almost 3 months. Her kids never missed a day of school and she may have been your waitress at a local restaurant. You would never know that the beautiful young lady serving your lunch washes her children in fast food restaurants early in the morning. She helps feed the kids by food court samples at the mall and makes it an outing. You would never know that she spends her nights finding a safe place to park and hopes that no one finds out so that her kids don’t get taken before she can get back on her feet. You would never know that her children are being picked on at the lunch table at your child’s school because they have the same shirt on 3 times that week, and, it’s dirty because Mom is doing all she can to survive.
We are all guilty of judging what homeless looks like. We immediately conjure up an image in our minds of the person sleeping under the bridge in the inner city.
Unfortunately, suburban poverty and homelessness is alive and well here in our community and we all have an opportunity to open our minds and our hearts in and effort to be helpful while implementing lasting change.
What does that help look like? It comes in the form of our program here at Home of Hope at Gwinnett Children’s Shelter. We take these young families and set them on a path to independence while keeping the family unit together. Our program develops customized life plans for Mom that include mandatory employment, savings goals and life skills classes which will teach her how to maintain her household upon completion of our program. Our children’s needs are met by first giving them a home like environment where they are safe and loved and free to be kids. We make sure they have their emotional, educational and physical needs met and then we watch them blossom.
This program works and is designed to END the cycle of homelessness for TWO generations at one time by assisting the young lady who works hard in our program and her children coming up after her. Her children will never know the extended stay hotel life or sleeping in their car, because Mom made a choice to work a program that works. Why does it work? It works because we give the necessary support and high accountability which teaches sustainability and independence. Putting homeless people from anywhere in housing without teaching how to manage independent living is a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars and we all need to support organizations that implement lasting change.
The young lady mentioned in the beginning of this article, spent 7 months with us and we are proud to say she and the children are doing very well on their own and Mom works in web design and graphics. She recently got married and is grateful for the time she spent in our program.
Join us this year by being a friend of Home of Hope at Gwinnett Children’s Shelter. Visit our website at www.homeofhopegcs.org to make your safe, on-line, tax deductible donation.