What can I do to help? This powerful phrase changes lives with every single level of involvement. Through continued investment and support of infrastructure and people, a community becomes strengthened. People are then able to live safer, healthier and fuller lives.
Bridging the gap to help those struggling to have a happier holiday season, enough to eat or warm clothes is essential in every community. The Tuesday after Cyber Monday has become known as Giving Tuesday, a national day of giving that encourages charitable support for nonprofit organizations at the start of the annual holiday season. Other programs, including Adopt a Family, are initiatives to provide families with Christmas gifts when they otherwise may go without.
There are groups of people throughout the state that organize these holiday specific programs, and it is not too late to get involved. Community Housing Network supports Oakand, Macomb and Wayne Counties and will help 500 families this year. The Shelter of Flint assisted 64 families last year with growing numbers this year. Similar programs can be found throughout Michigan and food donations, home and personal items and monetary donations are always needed to help people stay afloat during difficult times.
When difficult times become the harsh reality of losing a home and not having a place or anybody to turn to, communities step up and help provide meals, emergency shelters and direction for the future. So many times when the root of poverty or homelessness is drugs, abuse or the inability to find a job, people continuously cycle through the system. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime. This simple idea is the most fundamental (and recognizable) statement about empowerment.
In a recent visit, I learned that the Shelter of Flint is more than an emergency shelter. It is an organization that established programs and opportunities to make that first night stay a catalyst for empowerment. People who walk through the door are matched with a case manager who takes personal interest in their success through connections to community resources, life skills development and ultimately moving on toward stable housing that they can afford. Many resources including computer and culinary education are right within the shelter, and children are able to learn, play and feel safe.
The entire staff works with big hearts and minimal resources in an economically depressed area of Flint to help a person change their situation for the better and do so with pride and independence. The Shelter of Flint owns housing units in the immediate neighborhood surrounding the emergency shelter, two apartment complexes and a senior living facility, some of which is transitional and supportive housing. People are nurtured to create a life and home for themselves. Everybody pays rent which is invested in the housing for repairs and quality assurance, with amounts structured around income levels and budgeting education.
If given the choice, people do not prefer poverty. Rather, the care for human interest, education and empowerment produces amazing results. The Shelter of Flint can prove it with an amazing 80% success rate.