Since everyone else is saying it, I guess we will too -- the holiday season is upon us.
Don't worry, we won't be hanging the decorations quite yet (Advent is still two weeks away), but we are encouraging people to use the momentum and magic of the holiday season to think about issues like poverty, huger and homelessness.
Next week is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week and Catholic Charities' Social Justice Consortium is looking forward to attend a community event called, "Opening Doors, Celebrating Stories of Homelessness to Hope" on Nov. 16. Real people, who have experienced real homelessness will share their stories-- stories of success.
As part of Catholic Charities work with the homeless population, staff are taking part in the event hosted by the Polk County Housing Continuum, a collaboration of organizations serving the poor and homeless in the county.
Megan Thibodeau, Program Coordinator for Catholic Charities Poverty Reduction Programs, is part of the group organizing the event. She, along with many other providers that sit on the Polk County Housing Continuum, are very dedicated to addressing the issue of homelessness and work with homeless families daily.
St. Joseph Emergency Family Shelter and St. Mary Family Center are two of Catholic Charities Poverty Reduction Programs that serve homeless or people and families at risk of becoming homeless. Both programs have seen a steady increase in needs over the last few years.
Below is a copy of the press release with more information. Join us in reflecting on hunger and homelessness. If you can't attend this, consider attending the "No Room at the Inn" homelessness awareness event coming up Sat. & Sun. Dec. 4-5.
AREA ORGANIZATION PRESENTS STORIES OF HOMELESSNESS TO HOPE
WHAT: Opening Doors
WHEN: November 16th, 4:30-6:30 pm
WHERE: United Way Atrium, 1111 9th Street
Homelessness in Polk County has increased, with more families with children in particular finding themselves without a roof over their head. But even in the toughest of times, people are persevering and overcoming great challenges. At Opening Doors, an event staged by the Polk County Housing Continuum November 16th at United Way, formerly homeless people describe how they turned their lives around.
"These are people that have overcome major challenges in their lives," says Tim Shanahan, Chair of the Polk County Housing Continuum and Director of Hawthorn Hill/New Directions Shelter. "The perseverance and courage these people have shown is truly inspiring. We wanted people to share their stories so that the public would understand that the homeless are just like you and me. We really believe this event will put a face on the homeless problem in Des Moines."
"In Polk County, there were 5801 homeless people in 2009 of which were 688 families with children." says Merlie Crowley Polk County Housing Continuum Coordinator, "That’s a 7.6% increase in homeless people, mostly families with children. Additionally there were 4562 people at imminent risk of becoming homeless."
Opening Doors is hosted by the Polk County Housing Continuum, a collaboration of organizations serving the poor and homeless in the county. Additional support comes from Nationwide Insurance and United Way. The event is held in conjunction with National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, which is held each year one week before Thanksgiving to draw attention to dire situations faced by many locally and across the country.
"Homelessness isn’t a permanent situation," Shanahan says "“People come to terms with the problems in their lives and make changes for the better every day. The people at this event are living proof of this."