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October Newsletter

Cards4aCause

Hi all,

What Will You Face This Winter?

“My child has been sick for the last four days. Being able to use the CVS cards for her co-pays and extra diapers really helped” - Maya.

That is an example of the product of your generous donations so thank you so much! As Cards4aCause comes to it’s one year anniversary, I reached out to both of the shelters we work with to see if or how the gift cards were helping. I am happy to report, that both leaders heard from their residents that this was extremely helpful and we received some quotes from one of the shelters. They are on the website here: http://www.cards4acause.org/testimonials/

Would your favorite season change if you were homeless? Being homeless in the summer is hard, harder than people tend to think. Hypothermia is not a concern but overheating, fainting and dehydration are just as dangerous. However, winter is also hard, especially in places like Boston, where temperatures drop below freezing and stay there for days on end.

    700 people who are at risk for homelessness or experiencing it, die annually in the United States from the cold according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. Winter shelters and emergency shelters only open for extreme cold conditions; significantly lower than when hypothermia can set in. Mickie “Red” Roquemore was a Detroit resident who stayed in shelters and caused no problems. He was called a “great guy.” But on New Year’s Day, he was found dead after sleeping on a porch in 15 degree weather. Unfortunately, his story is not unheard of, or even rare. Anastasia had a similar circumstance, a transgender woman who wore high heels and wanted to be called “Your Majesty.” She lived in San Francisco, was called a “thorn in their side,” but her friends loved her. She was sitting on a bench outside a coffee shop when she died. It is hard to think of someone who was sitting outside, hoping they would survive the night. To read the full article, click here: https://thinkprogress.org/cold-weather-has-already-claimed-the-lives-of-the-homeless-72d22839c33b#.zeep5emf6

Let’s continue to Give Outside the Box

 

With much thanks,

                Joanna Munson-Palomba & Cards4aCause

                    

 

Update on Breakfast for Dinner

Cards4aCause

Cards4aCause recently held a fundraiser at Meridian Academy. It was a Breakfast for Dinner themed event which drew a sizeable group. The event was an amazing success where we raised over 2,000 dollars. Thank you to everyone who turned out, helped organize and/or donated!

 

July Newsletter

Cards4aCause

Hi Folks,

Thank you for reading Cards4aCause’s July newsletter. This newsletter focuses on Mayor Marty Walsh’s 2014 plan to end veteran homelessness and chronic homelessness in the city of Boston by 2018. However first, some important updates about Cards4aCause!

Cards4aCause is still working with Second Step Shelter in Newton and First Church Shelter in Harvard Square. Since March, Cards4aCause has been supporting 30 individuals or families with $20 gift cards each month. Currently, cards are from CVS or a grocery store, such as Stop and Shop.

The fall fundraising season is just around the corner! A heads up that we will be hosting our annual fundraiser as well as some other events that people can support to help Cards4aCause continue its work, so stay tuned for that!

Please support us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/Cards4acause-713259682123686/

In 2014, Boston’s mayor unveiled an ambitious plan to end veteran homelessness by 2015 and to end chronic homelessness by 2018. The “action plan” starts with an outline of the current situation Boston faces in regards to homelessness. The data used is from the 2015 count submitted to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and from the 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment. According to these sources, there are currently 1,720 single individuals who are in emergency shelter in Boston as well as 319 people who are sleeping on the streets. 66% of individuals stay in shelters for 30 days or less. There are 600 chronically homeless individuals in Boston. However, there has been a downward trend in the overall rate of chronic homeless individuals. It has been lowered by 14% since 2007. This evidence brings the plan to it’s hopeful premise: these numbers are small enough to bring Boston’s number of chronically homeless individuals to a virtual zero by 2018. The next question is how? This plan can be broken down into four main sections: Front Door Triage, Coordinated Access, Rapid Rehousing and Permanent Supportive Housing.

Front Door Triage: This is the immediate response when a person becomes homeless or enters emergency shelter. It is based around an emergency room model of triage care. That means that there is differential treatment based on need.

Coordinated Access: This is an online program that would match an individual to a housing location. A centralized system to organize the process of finding a place to sleep.

Rapid Rehousing: This step is simply giving people what they need. Finding people suffering from homelessness the services that they need for as long as they need them so that they can create a stable household. Finding someone a stable income is often a first step so that they can remain housed. One of the ways Boston can help is by increasing the number of applicants who receive federal and state money for a number of entitlement and benefit programs.

Permanent Supportive Housing: This support system will be used in complex and extremely difficult circumstances to stabilize households. It combines subsidized housing and high levels of support and intervention to get people into a safe, comfortable space.

Imagine a scenario where someone, let’s say, Mary entered this system. She has been domestically abused for two years. She left her husband recently and now has no place to go. She stays at a emergency shelter in Boston. She receives support based on her need and then is matched with a vacancy in the city. She then receives counseling and support to overcome her past trauma and sustain herself. She moves into permanent housing. Mary, may not be in need of an increased level of support, but if she was she would receive the necessary services.

Marty Walsh’s four step plan covers significantly more than I have outlined including how to specifically support young people, women, people with substance abuse issues and more. He also outlines goals for combating veteran homelessness. Here is the link to his plan so you can learn more: http://www.cityofboston.gov/dnd/PDFs/An%20Action%20Plan%20to%20End%20Veteran%20and%20Chronic%20Homelessness%20in%20Boston%202015-2018.pdf

Time and time again, I ask myself how Cards4aCause could help someone like Mary. It would take a plan like Walsh’s and millions of dollars to even make a dent in the chronic homelessness plaguing Boston. However, it is extremely important for me to remember why I started Cards4aCause: I wanted to make someone’s life better, in whatever way I could. I wanted to let someone have a little piece of their dignity and control back by letting them decide what they needed. So I am asking you to help me, help Mary make her situation a little bit better. Please make a contribution today to Cards4aCause. Visit our website, click on the donate button and be as generous as you can. Your financial gift or a gift card will help us continue our rewarding work of helping individuals suffering from homelessness.

Thank you,

Joanna Munson-Palomba & Cards4aCause

 

March Newsletter

Cards4aCause

Hi Folks,

This is the first newsletter and update from Card4aCause. I wanted to have a regular way of updating you all about two things, a) Cards4aCause's progress and b) current news, both good and bad about homelessness in Boston and the rest of the country. We will be sending these newsletters out 4 times a year/every 3 months.

Because this is the first newsletter, I wanted to start by sharing some important news from Cards4aCause. Cards4aCause has been featured (again) in Spare Change.

The link is here: http://sparechangenews.net/2015/11/watertown-student-raises-cards-4-a-cause/.

If you are interested in the progress Cards4aCause has made you can check out the first article in Spare Change.

The link is here: http://sparechangenews.net/2015/03/card-charity-eighth-grader-offers-help-homeless-one-gift-card-time/

Secondly, the approximate total for the first 10 months of fundraising is over 5,500 dollars. This exceeded our goal and I appreciate all your support. Another exciting piece of news if you didn't already know is that Cards4aCause is now a project of Helping Families and Children, which is a registered non profit with a 501c3 designation that also applies to to us! So now all those generous donations you have made and are planning to make are tax deductible!

Most importantly is giving your donations to the people who need it most. We were hoping to work with the student run Harvard Square Homeless Shelter however, we ran into some trouble. They recently opened a new shelter that serves homeless youth and while that is an exciting and extraordinary endeavor, they were having trouble finding the time to work on the partnership we were hoping for. We at Cards4aCause are wishing them well with their new shelter and perhaps we will be able to work together in the future.

Despite all this, I am very excited to share the news that we will be distributing around half of the raised funds through the First Church Shelter in Harvard Square. There are about 15 men living there year round. The shelter is run by Jim Stewart. It is on Church Street, right outside of Harvard Square. The residents can live at the shelter for as long as it is needed before they get back on their feet. One of the reasons, this shelter appealed to me is because many shelters try to rotate residents after a week or two. The truth is it takes longer than a week or two to get back on your feet. Needless to say, there is a need for both kinds of shelters and I am happy to be able to support the First Church Shelter. However, it is important to acknowledge that this is an all men’s shelter. I talked to a woman suffering from homelessness and she felt that there was more men’s shelters in the city and that she felt discriminated against. I would never want to enhance the gap between men and women’s rights and privileges by only giving to one. Therefore, I have connected with a domestic abuse shelter called Second Step located in Newtonville. The shelter can house up to 17 families with up to 6 children in each family. I got a chance to visit and have a look around and it was truly an amazing place and I’m very excited to be working with them. All the residents at Second Step are helped through the process of finding affordable housing and can stay at the shelter for up to two years while they get back on their feet.  

The link to look at the First Church Shelter is here: http://www.firstchurchcambridge.org/first-church-in-the-world/first-church-shelter

    The link to look at Second Step is here: http://www.thesecondstep.org/Home.aspx

Next to update you on is social media! I am part of the wonderful generation that has created the addicting habit of checking up on each other all the time. Because of this, Cards4aCause has a Facebook. Updates are regularly posted about events, interesting articles and things we are working on so check it out!

The link is here, so follow us and share us! https://www.facebook.com/Cards4acause-713259682123686/

Our website is informative and also updated regularly with interesting news and events! That link is here:  Cards4aCause.org

In January of 2014, 578,424 people were experiencing homelessness. That includes people sleeping on the street, people sleeping in emergency and transitional shelters. (This information is supplied by National Alliance to End Homelessness.) In 2013, 65% of people suffering from homelessness were in some kind of shelter. About a quarter of the homeless population are under the age of 18.

Decriminalizing homelessness is an important step in the process helping solve the homelessness crisis. People suffering from homelessness are often arrested for loitering, sleeping in public spaces, public urination and more. In reality, they are simply performing acts that are needed for them to stay alive. One of the saddest cases that was reported by National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty in their report on Housing and Homelessness in the United States of America was Jerome Murdough. Jerome was a African American individual suffering from homelessness in New York City. He was also a veteran. He sought protection from the freezing cold temperatures in the stairwell of public housing. He was arrested and put in a jail cell. He died in the custody of the police. The cell he was placed in was heated to over 100 degrees and his body could not longer take the treatment. Jerome Murdough needed protection from the cold, was arrested, mistreated by the authorities and didn’t live to share his story. This is an example of the extreme conditions that people suffering from homelessness are subjected to.

If you would like to read more about this in the report on Housing and Homelessness in the United States of America, the link is here: http://www.nlchp.org/documents/UPR_Housing_Report_2014

    I recently came across a documentary named Homestretch that follows three teens suffering from homelessness. It is a powerful movie with a powerful message and I would encourage you all to watch it. It is five dollars to rent on Amazon.

The link to the movie is here: http://www.homestretchdoc.com/video-on-demand/

Lastly, because we are working with two shelters and one of the most important parts of Cards4aCause is that people can rely on a regular sum of money, the fundraising never ends and all donations, no matter how small are appreciated!

Donation page: http://www.cards4acause.org/new-page/

Next newsletter, we will have some more updates on Cards4aCause and more news about the state of homelessness in our city, state and country.

Thank you for your support,

             Joanna Munson-Palomba 

  

 

 

Being Grateful

Cards4aCause

Sorry I missed a week but I’m back now

            One of the things I think is very interesting is that when we give something, we almost always expect something in return. Think about it, you give a birthday gift to your teenage niece, whether or not she likes it, you expect a gracious smile and a thank you note. This is also true with homelessness. When you give someone money on the street you expect something in return. A smile, an enthusiastic thank you and as not to throw anyone under the bus, I am definitely in this group as well. I had someone say to me “Well she wasn’t very grateful” after they gave money to someone suffering from homelessness on the street. At first, I was confused. Why wasn’t she thankful and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn’t the person receiving the money being rude, it was this idea that when you give money to someone who clearly needs it, we expect them to be overly thankful. However, the truth is that they may or may not be grateful. They may feel slighted or are having a bad day. They may feel mad that you gave them a dollar when you had a five dollar Starbucks in their hand. The truth is you can’t know, you just have to realize that they are having whatever feelings they are going to have and they are going to show them however they want. It does not change whether or not you are going to give them money.