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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