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Doing Good Together Newsletter )
Helping strengthen kids and communities through family volunteerism... March 2008
in this issue
  • Plot to Confront the Issue of Homelessness
  • Perceiving the Homeless
  • Facts
  • One Family's Story-Dishing up Kindness
  • News From DGT

  • Many of us have encountered a person who is homeless at one time or another. Although we may feel compassion for the individuals and anger at the injustice that allows homelessness, we may also feel discomfort and even fear. So how do we help solve the problem of homelessness and address the issue thoughtfully with our children? How do we help them relate to individuals who are homeless? Below are some ideas.



    Jenny Friedman, Executive Director

    Plot to Confront the Issue of Homelessness
    National Coalition for the Homeless.

    Make a Difference... Whether you prefer indirect or direct service, and whether you have an hour or an entire day a week to donate, there are opportunities for your family to help in the fight to end homelessness. Many shelters are looking for volunteer families to serve meals, interact with children, or sort clothes and toiletries. If your children are too young for those tasks (some shelters have age limits for volunteers), consider collecting items to donate. Call your local shelter first to find out what's most needed and ask if you can have a tour when your drop off the items. As your children grow older, learn together how you can advocate to end homelessness by visiting the National Coalition for the Homeless.

    Photo: The National Coalition for the Homeless

    Perceiving the Homeless
    Flay Away Home

    Talk About It... Help your children learn compassionate and effective responses to homelessness.

  • Ask your children what the words homeless or poor mean to them. Learn the surprising facts from the National Health Care for the Homeless Council and share them with your children.
  • Talk about stereotypes and myths. Help your children understand that just because someone is homeless doesn't mean that this person did something wrong. Explain that people become homeless for a variety of reasons (such as lack of affordable housing, domestic violence or mental illness) and that it isn't necessarily permanent.
  • When you see a person who is homeless, talk to your children about why you do or don't offer money. If you think it's better to donate funds to organizations rather than individuals, explain why. In any case, emphasize the importance of treating all people with
  • Realize that as your children get older, they'll be able to discuss these issues with more respect. understanding and depth. Match your conversation to your child's age and developmental level.
  • Learn About It... To educate yourself about homelessness, visit the National Alliance to End Homelessness website.

    A great way to start a conversation with your child is the read-aloud book Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting. It tells the story of a boy and his father who live in an airport terminal as they struggle to earn money to rent an apartment.

    Photo: Fly Away Home

    Facts

    In the United States, more than 3 million people, 1.3 million of them children, are likely to experience homelessness in a given year.      

    National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty

    One Family's Story-Dishing up Kindness
    Simpsom Housing Services

    Meet the Price family of Minneapolis: parents Keren and Peter, and their kids Gus (14) and Emma (10). Every month or two for the past two years, they have volunteered together at Simpson Housing Women's Shelter-the only emergency shelter in the Twin Cities dedicated solely to homeless single women. The facility gives shelter to 25 guests each evening.

    Generally the whole Price family volunteers together. Their task is to prepare and serve dinner to all of the shelter's guests in a given evening. At first, they did this with another family, and brought food prepared at home. Now experienced quantity chefs, the Prices take sole charge-and prepare everything in the shelter kitchen. The family always makes the same "signature meal"-baked chicken, broccoli casserole, salad, donated Breadsmith bread and Girl Scout cookies. It's become such a comfortable routine that each family member sits at a different table during mealtime, eating and conversing with the guests. Occasionally, the family stays afterward to play games with the women, including Emma's favorite, bingo.

    Photo: Simpson Housing Women's Shelter

    Read Full Story

    News From DGT

    Doing Good Together has been working with schools and faith groups to host "Family Service Nights" -- a fun volunteer evening that focuses around 5 to 10 "booths" or "stations," each one offering a simple, hands-on service project for families. It has proved to be an ideal way for families to have fun together while making a real difference in the community. If your school, faith or community group wants to learn more about hosting a Family Service Night, contact us at 612.822.6502 or send an e- mail.

    Also, if you live in the Twin Cities, take a few minutes to sign up for our free monthly family volunteer listing. DGT canvases the Twin Cities to compile a listing of clever and creative family volunteer projects. Our list is ideal for families seeking either one-time or ongoing volunteer projects. It includes five different family volunteer opportunities 10 months a year. Click here, enter your e-mail address, and hit "send."

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