REFLECTIONS FROM ALICE ZACCARELLO, Executive Director
Our two featured blogs in March (Homelessness: A Roadblock to Recovery and At Home at Jacob’s House) have highlighted the relationship between mental illness and homelessness. The statistics are alarming, but the situation is even more desperate than the numbers indicate—because we are talking about PEOPLE. People who, through no choice nor fault of their own, are beset by brain disorders that prohibit them from basic human opportunities like work, security and dignity.
For members of The Well Community, safe, affordable and decent housing is an ongoing challenge. For some of them, because there is so little available, the streets are their only option. What can be done?
I have thought about this a lot, and I have a few ideas on ways we all can address the issue of homelessness:
- Learn more about the cost of homelessness, both to those who are homeless and to our community.
- Let your elected officials know that the only way to end homelessness is to give a person a permanent place to live and wraparound services until they are stable.
- Get involved with local nonprofits that have shelters, temporary housing or are relocating the homeless to permanent housing.
- If you can’t get involved, give in-kind or financial donations to agencies that are helping the homeless.
- Be kind to homeless people on the streets. Eye contact, a smile and a genuine greeting can be a step in restoring dignity.
- Follow The Well Community on Facebook and Twitter and watch for links to educational information, including articles on homelessness and housing.
While we actively pursue changes in the housing situation, here are some things you can do right now for homeless members of The Well Community:
- Sign up with your friends to provide a meal for our Thursday Night Life gathering. Often that is the only meal our members have that day, and their main meal of the week.
- Give the 15-20 minute message at our Thursday Night Life gathering.
- Join The Well Auxiliary and help them move toward their long-range dream of building a boarding home for female members of The Well.
- Make a donation to The Well for the ongoing services of Jacob’s House, our Dallas-licensed boarding home for men.
- Donate items to The Well that we can give to our homeless members, such as:
- Sleeping bags: they receive a great deal of use and wear out fast, are stolen or sometimes lost.
- Winter coats, gloves, scarves and hats.
- Socks and personal care items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.
- “Blessing bags”: plastic bags filled healthy, non-perishable snacks.