Originally appeared on our Facebook Page (Cleveland Homeless)
Will NEOCH be having any volunteer opportunities around Thanksgiving?
Yes, we always have volunteer activities available and we welcome your help. Our Thanksgiving volunteer activity is a homework assignment to raise the issue of homelessness with a local elected official. We hope that you will set aside some time while serving a meal, putting together hygiene kits for distribution, or donating clothing to the Cosgrove Center to do some advocacy to end homelessness in Cleveland. Ask a suburban councilperson what they are doing to address domestic violence in their community? If they say they refer them to the DV Center in Cleveland please inform them that is respectfully the wrong answer. We only have a small number of DV beds (40 compared to 90 in Akron). These beds are always full and many women have to flee to the horrible Women's shelter because of a lack of space. Tell him or her that the suburbs need a better response and hope that they do something better for their residents in 2016. Let us know about your Councilperson's response and we will publish them.
You could ask your County Council person why they have done nothing to help the county funded Community Women's Shelter on Payne Ave. You could ask them to visit at 9 p.m. to see all the people sleeping on the floor and the horrible conditions then implement the Homeless Congress recommendations about the women's shelter. You could ask them why the County Animal Shelter is better than the County Entry Women's Shelter.
You could reach out to County Executive Armond Budish to ask why the County is second guessing families and turning them away from family shelters in a Orwellian named policy of diversion. Ask him to meet with NEOCH to discuss these issues. You could ask him to implement a moratorium on diversions so that families do not resort to sleeping in their car or risk going back to an abuser because they are turned away from shelter. Let us know what he says.
You could call up United Way or local religious leaders and ask what they are doing to help with this huge rise in family homelessness in Cleveland? How are they helping to serve these kids who are scared because they see the fear on their parent's faces? Why do we not have a bed in the community for these families?
You could ask Cleveland officials why there is a tax to support the arts, but no specific tax to build affordable housing? There is no local housing trust fund, but money is raised for theaters, orchestras, and museums? There is plenty to do to fill the hunger needs of the population, but think how many people would benefit from working on a new family shelter or a fund to build affordable housing?
It seems like an overwhelming problem, but the community stepped up in the past when there was a need and you have to know that things are really bad right now for families. We encourage you to volunteer and dedicate time to clothing, food, and hygiene kits over the next month, but we need you to work on policy and advocacy at the same time. We have a volunteer section of our website that has other projects in the community you can work on, but we also have an advocacy section with issues we could use your help in solving.
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