As CONSIDER THE HOMELESS! goes forward we hope to establish a team of dedicated volunteers to brainstorm and establish priorities, seek donations, fund raise, and produce a newsletter. Please help us to grow this grassroots effort to reach out to and help our less fortunate neighbors. Our vision for the future includes expanding upon the following:
It is our dream that we will soon have a team of trained volunteers, our “Army of Advocates,” who can offer one-to-one assistance to any of our homeless neighbors who ask for help. We are in the process of communicating with other organizations to make this vision a reality. Matching up an “advocate” with the person asking for help will be a critical part of this activity. We see this advocacy work as helping to ease the load of “case workers” and expediting appropriate assistance for the homeless.
In preparing for this role as advocate our volunteers will be required to complete the 8-hour course in Mental Health First Aid offered by the City of Berkeley. Two of our volunteers have already completed this course and they found it useful. The course helps you to identify untreated mental health problems, offers practical suggestions about how to talk to homeless clients having mental health issues and how to de-escalate potentially difficult situations.
Keep building the volunteer base of cooks, co-pilots, bread collectors and baggers, server washers, writers, recruiters and fundraisers with ongoing and enhanced recruitment efforts. For example, we cook approximately 96 x 7-gallons of soup a year so if we have 24 regular volunteer cooks – each person would need to cook the soup only four times a year. Ditto for co-pilots, bread baggers and server washers.
If you have never been homeless you take for granted the ability to shower and wash your clothes whenever you want to. For the homeless finding places to shower and launder clothes is a constant struggle especially since the MASC Drop-in Center removed the locker program and cut back their hours. We at CTH! want to try to improve this situation by doing the following:
Invite Berkeley Mayoral Candidates and other City Council Members for a ride-along in Diablo Blanco (our van) on a Thursday or Sunday night dinner run. Some politicians and policy makers really understand what it means to be homeless but many do not. We want to help educate and inform current and future city leaders about what it means to be homeless and what they can do to ease the problem. With Berkeley and San Francisco now acknowledged as being two of the least affordable places to live in the nation – homelessness is going to become a bigger problem in the future. Many people are only one paycheck away from having to live on the streets. Sadly once on the streets and the longer they live on the streets their chances of being housed diminishes daily.
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