Nearly everyone in America is tied to homelessness in one way, shape or form. If we do not personally know someone who is or has been homeless, in the least we can say that we encounter the homeless as we drive throughout our cities. Each of us is forced with a difficult personal decision and some of us are forced to make this decision daily when encountering this growing population: “do I choose to help?” “What can I give?” “Will my few dollars make a difference?” “Is there a better way?” Being a social service provider that focuses its efforts in eliminating homelessness in the Las Vegas Valley, there is a way in which you can help, and we want to provide that opportunity for you!
Homelessness in America is a serious socially complex issue, especially within Las Vegas. According to a census conducted in 2014 (Endhomelessness.org), Las Vegas was listed as the #4 Metro City with the highest percentage of homelessness per capita in America! This does not state that Las Vegas has the #4 highest homeless population, this means that per every 50 homeless individuals per every 10,000 population within the measured metro city, Las Vegas was deemed as #4 on the list. With an ever growing city with what it seems to be an infinite amount of resources at its finger tips, this is an issue that we can begin to resolve, right?
In order to ensure progress in resolving social dilemmas, it takes a great deal of education, community involvement and collaboration. The first step is education. Are we given the proper education that will prepare our willing members of society to help in creating lasting solutions? This is something that is very pressing and we would encourage all to reflect as you give.
We at CARE like to place giving in two separate categories. There is temporal assistance and then there is Lasting assistance. Some of these services available can possibly fall into either section. This of course is depending on how that service is being utilized. For instance there is the topic of gifting food. As we gift food, we are giving a “temporal assistance”. Sure our bodies are reliant upon substance in order to function, however can we utilize the time, finances and resources that go into food to help an few individuals acquire the much more coveted services that open pathways for full assimilation back into society? However, food can also be viewed as a “lasting assistance”. Possible this meal(s) will help this individual save money in order to progress responsibly in their journey throughout life?
One question that we encourage all who serve our homeless population to ask themselves is: “This service that I am providing… is it going to help lift this individual(s) out of homelessness?”
The CARE Complex prides itself in providing meaningful giving where groups will receive a great “return on their investment”. We all dedicate our time, talents, resources and sometimes our hard earned money to nonprofits. However, is it being utilized and spent wisely? We encourage all to ask where their donation is going, you have earned that right! A nonprofit is to represent the community. That is why the nonprofit organization has reached an agreement with their State and also the Federal Government. They have vowed to be the voice of those in which they are serving and hope to engage a community to selflessly serve.
CARE reaches out to local schools, businesses, Colleges/Universities, and Religious groups in order to spread proper education regarding our homeless population, and responsible service opportunities. One way that we have partnered with our community is by community hygiene package drives and building events.
Community leaders take on the assignment to host a drive or a hygiene building event. This is a safe and responsible way for our entire community to give back and within the comfort of their neighborhoods. These events are welcome to all ages, therefore allowing your children a meaningful, teaching opportunity where they can serve the homeless. These events are paired with a 15-30 minute orientation that introduces the current state of our homeless population, responsible ways we can serve, and ideas for lasting solutions to help resolve homelessness at its core. The packages are then donated to the CARE complex where we distribute them to the individuals who we and other social service providers know who are in need of the service.
The donations of hygiene packages help the CARE Complex significantly in regards to finances. We have set aside hundreds of dollars each month to provide our clients with these “temporal” services and whenever we obtain donations, these finances transfer over to our “lasting” service funding. When our community is donating these items, they are also providing more lasting assistance. It is twofold and together we accomplish so much more.
We just discussed the importance of education and community involvement, next we will discuss the importance of establishing proper collaboration among those who are trained and experienced to serve the homeless population. Where do all of these hygiene packages go and who receives them? In order to proper disperse all of these hygiene packages to those who need it most, we must analyze our homeless demographic.
Not all of our homeless population live within the Corridor of Hope. The COH is an area located in downtown where many of our homeless social service providers (including CARE) and overnight shelters call home. A great deal of our homeless population reside here, however many more of our homeless population choose to live in the washes, desert encampments, and surrounding areas. They choose to live in these areas for various reasons. Some may seeking a refuge from the violence that takes place in the COH and overnight shelters, others may be trying to escape legal action and are attempted escapees from consequence from personal decision, some enjoy the luxury of having an area to call their own where they can store all of their personal items, and some suffer from severe addiction. We do not know ALL of the reasons why individuals choose not to reside where the services are, however it is our responsibility to reach out to the entire population.
CARE sponsors several different groups and organizations in clothing, hygiene, bus passes, and other coveted services. This is to ensure that we can reach ALL audiences and allow other professionals that deal with a different demographic of homeless within our city to do what they do best, help rehabilitate lives!
These packages go to the LGTBQ Center located in downtown Las Vegas, the Thanks-living Bike Crew, METRO PD Outreach, Clark County Social Service workers and other businesses/organizations. If by any chance you are a provider reading this blog, feel free to contact CARE and request more information regarding how your organization can obtain these services.
The CARE Complex is dedicated to the elimination of homelessness which is an extremely socially complex issue. In order to resolve complex social issues you must rely heavily upon education, collaboration (interdisciplinary means), and community involvement. The CARE Complex has a plan that provides our community with proper education, an opportunity to serve, and collaboration with other social service professionals. As we work together with the same goal in mind, we will begin to see the census findings decrease as our communities are being strengthened and drawn together.