One of the most basic needs of human beings is having a place to call home, a place that is safe, comfortable, warm, restful, and has plenty of room for your stuff. Home provides a solid foundation off from which you can go each day, out into the world, and do what you need to do knowing you have somewhere to come back to. For most of us, home is sanctuary, home is where there are others who know us and care about us, home is where we can find support when all else fails. It’s like if we have ‘home’, we have 90% of what we need to make it through each day.
Homelessness is (and has been) a chronic, longstanding problem in most communities. No matter how hard various public and private agencies have tried to deal with the issue of homelessness, it just doesn’t seem to go away. The reasons a person ends up homeless are so numerous I can’t possibly list them all here, but some of the underlying, reoccurring reasons are the following: loss of job, loss of health, and loss of love.
• Loss of job is obvious: lose your job and you lose your income to pay your mortgage or rent, and all those other monthly expenses related to having a roof over your head.
• Loss of health: the cost of health care is another key reason why folks lose their homes. It doesn’t take much to have the cost of a heart attack, stroke, or some major injury from an accident pile up the out-of-pocket bills for care. Then, if the medical issue becomes a chronic, long-term issue….whew…the bills never, ever go away. But, loss of health can come about because of issues such as chronic drug use, alcohol abuse, and other addictions.
1. And using and abusing leads to other issues: being kicked out of your home by loved ones who can’t stand dealing with your issues anymore, getting thrown into jail for illegal drug use or DUI and it keeps on going until you are homeless on the streets pushing your shopping cart full of the last personal belongings you have left in the world.
2. Oh, and have I mentioned mental health (or lack thereof) and how it plays into all of the above? If only we could find a way to “cure” mental health conditions such as paranoia, schizophrenia and other depilating mental diseases.
• Loss of love and support and care by those closest to you: Young teens that are homeless are often out on the street because of a major blow up within the family. Their parents are so dysfunctional, the verbal fighting never seems to stop, there might be physical and sexual abuse and violence.
Whatever the issue is the teen either is thrown out, asked to leave, or decides to leave because they just can’t handle it anymore at ‘home.’ Home is no longer safe, comfortable, warm, and restful.
Now, think about if you combine any of these three reasons – loss of job and loss of love, loss of health and loss of job, loss of love and loss of health – however you combine them, it all leads to the same thing: loss of home, a place to call your own, a place where the heart is.
Helping Hearts Foundation was formed in 2008 because of the issues related to homelessness. Seeing people go in and out of hospital emergency rooms, finding out more about their specific situation, seeing the places they called ‘home’, hearing about the way the loss of health, loss of job and loss of love tied together in a way that left so many without a safe, comfortable, warm, and restful home.
Since 2008, the Foundation has served those in our community who have some of the highest level of needs and the lowest level of resources. And when we talk about resources, we don’t just mean money – it’s that combined with lack of family (often the Foundation’s clients have no family members), lack of friends, lack of ability to process personal decision making, lack of guidance from a trusted advisor, lack of someone who will listen long enough to help figure out what will solve the problem. So many public and private agencies have tried to help these most vulnerable folks, with good intentions, but rather than solving the problem have become part of the problem. Helping Hearts Foundation is trying to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. And, to date, has accomplished much to support and care for more than 300 individuals and families who needed to find ‘home’.
By intent, we don’t try to spout statistics and research and studies in these blogs. Statistics don’t put a face to any problem, but a picture does! Please take time to look at some of the homemade videos on the Helping Hearts Foundation’s website (www.helping-hearts.org). You will see they aren’t of fine, upscale production; they are homemade, but they show you the faces behind the statistics. You will see the kind of conditions these people were living in when Helping Hearts first met them. You will hear their own stories of what they had been coping with without the support of family and friends. It is said that a picture paints a thousand words, so I don’t need to say much more.
So, here is a final word: We need your help. Helping Hearts Foundation has been self-funding: Monies received for services provided go to help pay for more services that are needed. The Foundation does not receive any public funding so we can truly provide whatever is needed by any of our clients: A roof over their head, three meals a day, weekly housekeeping, assistance with transportation to medical appointments, new clothes, haircuts, gym membership, help with budgeting and bill paying, advocacy with health care needs, case management, you name it – the Foundation is there is help make sure the need is met.
We need your help: Through a charitable donation to support the Foundation’s ability to continue to be part of the solution. And, thank you. Thank you for helping the Foundation continue its work with some of the most vulnerable members of our community. Thank you for helping us to be part of the solution.