Homeless Awareness event

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Homeless Awareness event

Post  Mike PK on Thu 30 Oct - 14:21:11

Hi everybody. This website is great. I want to talk about an event for homeless awareness week, we came to the consensus last night that we did not have time to organize a responsible event by mid November.

Lets brainstorm some ideas, and see where we come out at. We have a great opportunity here, and it does not have to be in Mid November, it can be anytime we want.

Mike
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Re: Homeless Awareness event

Post  Robert on Fri 31 Oct - 14:57:25

Sounds like a great idea, but do you have a outline?
It is a "Week".
Would we have to schedule something everyday of the week?

By being "Aware", it would seem to suggest that we will be showing or discussing;

1. Causes,
a. physical illness
b. mental illness (or both)
c. Physical abuse
d. Job loss


2. The "Needs" of a homeless person:
a. Need for food
b. Need for shelter
c. Need for treatment of the root cause of their homelessness


3. Solutions for the homeless:
a. Financial Aid
b. Housing Aid
c. Educational Aid
d. Medical Aid


4. Help or Information on solving their homeless condition or improving their life.

5. How the Greater Kalamazoo area can help the homeless now or help end their homelessness.

We could use;
Guest speakers
Reporters for "awareness"
A site for "events"
Getting a sponsor to help with some of the items;
ISAAC?
Arctus Foundation
City of Kalamazoo


It seems there is a lot of problems connected to fixing or helping the homeless. Should we focus on one aspect, a few, or all?
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Re: Homeless Awareness event

Post  Robert on Fri 31 Oct - 15:32:39

5. How the Greater Kalamazoo area can help the homeless now or help end their homelessness.
We could ask for Donations for the following groups;
1. Kalamazoo Gospel Mission
2. Deacon's Conference
3. The Drop in
4. The homeless medical clinic that closed due to a lack of a doctor.

No matter what, we do need press coverage to get "Awareness" and people to get involved with helping the homeless.

I think we need two of us to get together with a plan and then go to the Kalamazoo paper and ask for coverage.
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Awareness/Community Outreach Plan instead of worrying about November week?

Post  vlyoncallo on Sun 2 Nov - 14:55:52

I think Robert made a very good suggestion about a couple of us trying to come up with a plan. And, his list of specific things that could help is certainly something that can be publicized as part of a broader campaign. I'm thinking that we're not going to be able to pull something together in the next two weeks that is as good as we'd like it to be. But, I also think that doesn't matter-I've always found the "homeless awareness week" a bit troubling myself--it's sort of like you don't have to worry about homelessness except for that week coming into the "holidays". What I think we could do is work to develop a list of different types of events towards "community education" (for lack of a better wording) that might occur at various times throughout the year. Some things that come to mind include:

a. sponsoring forums on issues around housing and homelessness
b. continuing to develop and spread the word about theis site (great work Robert).
c. continue to develop connections and work with other organizations in Kalamazoo who are working on/around similiar issues
d. write opinion pieces to be submitted to the Gazette
e. any other ideas?

Then, there is the question of what we would like to convey in these efforts?

One thing that I've always found problematic is the use of the term "the homeless". It often comes to mean all sorts of negative things in people's minds and may help create/reproduce an idea that there is some homogenous group of homeless people who are easily defined. I encounter this in my classes all the time where students talk about "the homeless" being some way as opposed to students at wmu or kvcc and I have to point out that there are people who find themselves in a situation defined as homeless who are actually students at both institutions too. If we could convey a sense of the diverse experiences, skills, etc. of people who may be homeless at different times in Kalamazoo, I think it could help convey some misperceptions that are commonly held that tend to pathologize people who are homeless. But, that's just one possibility. I'm sure there are many others.
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Re: Homeless Awareness event

Post  Robert on Tue 4 Nov - 16:28:24

Ok, here is one idea. (kind of wild, but thought I would throw it out here)

When young people in school or just married and have a child on the way, they "simulate" being a parent by giving them a egg or doll to take care of for a week. Why not give the experience of being homeless to any who sign up or are interested.

Here is one way to go. They would be able to "simulate" a week of homelessness in one sitting.
They could come to our "event" and see how they do or they can try to do this online.
We would need a online connection to run the "event" online. WMI would be a thought.
We could almost make it like a game board, by placing them on a large map of Kalamazoo.

We can offer this experience to Western, Kalamazoo College, high school students. If we could enlist teachers, maybe some sort of class credit could be offered to them if they participate.

We can make cards, of all the different kinds of homeless people and families, each with different kind of problems, and reasons for being homeless.
They would draw a card.
We would also give them time sheets for seven days. They would have to plan their times, how to get to a resource (travel), how to eat (where to eat), how to spend their time, where to sleep, and how to cure their homelessness (resources)
From experience, I learned about a lot of resources from the homeless people around me, How to get free laundry, a ID card, clothes, ect.

They would be able to talk to, (us or those who volunteer to advise them).

We also could throw some problems at them. Like for financial aid at the Deacon's conference, they need to be the first two people asking for aid in the morning and in the afternoon, otherwise they have to wait another day, (and be the first person in line), or at the drop in, they are usually run out of money near the end of the month and would not be able to help them with a ID until the first of the month. or???? Going to the SS or Michigan State aid offices without a ID or Birth Certificate.

Each day plan would be sent to our e mail address for examination and "grading", or if they are at our event, we could grade it right there.
Some might go hungry, lose a day for bad planning, (going to the wrong place or not being prepared)
Everyone would have to draw a bad luck card,? illness (sick for a day), problem with the police, (hey just throwing out ideas here)

The only other way of letting people experience homelessness is to give them a card ( and drop them off in the middle of the city and let them figure it out. (lol, ya we can't do that)

This is just a crazy idea, anyone think it could work or we could make it work?
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robert's suggested activity

Post  vlyoncallo on Wed 12 Nov - 20:59:29

I like Robert's suggestion. It would take alot of work, but it could be very useful. If other people think this is a good idea, I would be willing to work on this with people--but, won't have time until January to really focus upon it.
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Re: Homeless Awareness event

Post  Robert on Thu 13 Nov - 10:20:39

Thanks for the support vlyoncallo. January sounds fine.
I did a little research online, and Habitat for Humanity and others have run something similar at "Events". (Not on-line)

The focus was on securing housing for all of these events. None of them were run online, but used a system of a leader, and 6 to 8 admin, representing various agencies. The students and others were given a card, outlining their situation and reasons for needing housing. They would visit with the administrators at different tables (waiting in line) and experience the difficulties of securing housing. 10 to 15 minutes would represent a day.

I have started working on something like that, only expanding it to all areas of being homeless. Food, shelter, housing, warm clothing, emergency money, State and federal aid forms would be displayed at each table. They will be made aware of the loss of privacy, difficulties, and embarrassments at each table.

Because many of the services provided for the homeless are by religious organizations, they will be asked by some, "Do you worship the same God as we do, in the same way we do?" (Avoiding being specific about what religion) (We do not want to embarrass any organization or service)

Because we want to run this in the shortest amount of time possible, and still leave time for personal testimony from real homeless people and those who provide service, I will number the cards describing each simulated homeless person's problems and situation. We will pre-score them ahead of time, with results that they would receive at each table to speed things along at each table.

We will be recruiting as many homeless people as possible to help run the event and give personal testimony.

Additionally, there will be cards given out to the simulated homeless people, "hard luck cards". The homeless face quite a few difficulties living a life on the streets and in the shelters. They will have to attempt to overcome these problems.
A. Medical emergencies
B. Family problems
C. Losses from being homeless, (mugged or loss of papers needed for securing aid)
D. Financial problems, (insurance of car and registration running out). ECT.

Please post here any suggestions or ideas for this simulation.

Later after the event, I would like to continue working on this idea for an On-line version that we or others could use/run nationally. It could be run via e-mail, chat room and on a message board. It would not be an hour or an hour and a half event, but run over the course of a semester and be much more realistic. They would realize what it would be like to live the life of a homeless person.

Rob
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Re: Homeless Awareness event

Post  vlyoncallo on Mon 17 Nov - 0:50:36

Robert,

That really does sound like a fantastic way to approach the issues. Years ago I took part in an event sort of like the other model you found. It was a bit overly simplistic at that point-hopefully it's been developed more along the lines that you propose since then to account for some of the variability and complexity of homelessness.

The religion issue question is an interesting one. But, I do have to point out that not all communities are like Kalamazoo. As Cindy pointed out last week, lots of money comes into Kalamazoo from the state and federal government. It doesn't all have to be then sent out to "subcontractors"-some cities actually run their own programs that are not religious based. For example, for about a decade I worked in shelters in Massachusetts and Connecticut-very few of the shelters or food programs there were religious based at all.

What you propose for the eventual semester based course that could be done online really sounds like something that could be very instructive. I'm going to be out of town for the next week, but I'll be at the meeting the following Tuesday. Maybe we could talk more about it then--I've been teaching a few classes online for the last few years and have some ideas about how it could work.
-Vin
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Re: Homeless Awareness event

Post  Doug on Tue 20 Jan - 20:02:07

thank you vin and robert for getting together and sharing ideas on how to make this event a success.
mike and his wife erica are doing a great job as well, and i look forward to being a part of this event
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