By Dr. Chad Audi
As the country commemorates National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, there is a renewed call to fight poverty. It’s appropriate that this observation occurs each year just before Thanksgiving, a time when people think about what they are thankful for and a time when more people reach out to the disadvantaged to provide them with help and hope.
The annual observance is co-sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness. More than 500 schools, communities and cities participate by bringing greater awareness to the issues of hunger and homelessness through various events and activities.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates there are approximately 664,414 people in this country who are homeless each night. This week marks a time for the nation to work together in an effort to end hunger and homelessness. There is strength in numbers. Organizers want participants to hold events such as sleep outs on college campuses, educational forums on hunger and homelessness, fasts, community service days, and fundraising drives. There’s a lot that you can do to bring these issues to the forefront of people’s minds.
So what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? A steady job? Good health? Family and friends? Whatever it may be, in the spirit of the holiday, reach out and help those less fortunate this holiday season and let others know that we are all responsible for making this a better world for everyone. And remember the three A’s: Awareness, Advocacy and Action!
By Dr. Chad Audi
As the nation pauses this week to acknowledge and celebrate our veterans, I’d like to encourage everyone to make a commitment to help put an end to homelessness among veterans. Sadly, many of the men and women who risked their lives for our freedom are now faced with perhaps the biggest battle of their lives. They are homeless and suffering from mental illness. Others are on the brink of losing their jobs and homes. Veterans returning from the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars are having a difficult time finding employment, which results in an increase in the number of young, homeless veterans.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), 23 percent of the country’s homeless population are veterans. In order to end this crisis, veterans must have easy access to numerous programs, services and benefits. Here at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), we have special support programs in partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that help homeless male and female veterans get back on their feet. The veterans receive all of the necessary services to escape this downward spiral: housing, food, medical and psychological care, substance abuse treatment, job training, and educational opportunities.
There are several efforts underway to reduce the incidence of homelessness among veterans of the armed forces. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans’ entire mission is to end veteran homelessness by shaping public policy, promoting collaboration, and building the capacity of service providers. President Barack Obama’s Administration led the charge this summer when the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness released a comprehensive plan — “Opening Doors” — to end homelessness among veterans by 2015. The VA has committed to providing resources for this initiative.
It is heartbreaking to see a person who has given his or her blood and life for all of our well being end up with no place to go. Our heroes deserve dignity and respect.
By Dr. Chad Audi
Now that Halloween has passed, many people are getting into a “holiday state of mind.” Christmas lights and decorations are already erected in some neighborhoods and retail stores have their holiday merchandise on display. You may be starting to plan your holiday meals and parties. And you may be starting to panic, realizing we only have a few weeks before Thanksgiving arrives and less than two months until Christmas.
Time is also running out for agencies like mine — the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) — that desperately need donations and resources to make the holidays brighter for the homeless and disadvantaged. Can you believe that we will serve more than 300,000 hearty meals this season to people in the Detroit area? When you multiply that number by all of the rescue missions, shelters and soup kitchens across the country, you get an astounding number of meals that are prepared for the nation’s needy during the holidays. And we all need your support and generosity.
Those in need could be your neighbors. They could be your relatives. And they could be your colleagues and friends. Hunger and homelessness know no boundaries. Anyone can be impacted by a bad economy, unemployment, home foreclosures, and broken marriages.
As you go about planning your holiday celebrations over the coming weeks, please keep these individuals and families in your thoughts and prayers. Holidays are a lonely time for the homeless and hopeless. That’s why DRMM and other agencies do whatever it takes to give them great Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners and a home for the holidays.