Posted on November 16, 2010
Driving down the highway, it is easy to see what causes people are passionate about. From “Support Our Troops” bumper stickers to pink breast cancer ribbon magnets, many people adorn the backs of their cars with decals representing issues they feel strongly about. In the U.S., we have holidays dedicated to everything from National Sandwich Day on Nov. 3 to National Clean Out Your Fridge Day on Nov. 15, many of which go by unobserved. However, this week is one that should not be overlooked. Nov. 14 to 20 is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, and everyone should get involved and take the opportunity to make a difference.
Every year, the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness co-sponsor this awareness week. Appropriately scheduled one week before Thanksgiving, this is the perfect time to reflect on everything you have in your life and to remember those who are not so fortunate. At a time when everyone is focused on giving thanks for their own good fortune, why not pay it forward and share your time and resources with others?
Awareness begins with knowledge and understanding. Have you ever read Richmond’s Ten Year Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness?
Do you know what agencies exist to provide services for people who are homeless in the Richmond area?
The National Alliance to End Homelessness has a number of easy-to-read fact sheets available to help familiarize newcomers with the core issues.
National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is about turning knowledge and understanding into something concrete and meaningful by taking action. Show your support by actually getting involved and making a difference. The NCH web site lists countless suggestions for ways to get involved.
One of the most meaningful ways to get involved is to volunteer, and Virginia Supportive Housing offers enough volunteer opportunities to meet everyone’s interests. VSH has a wide spectrum of options available for congregations of all faiths, corporate teams, service clubs, youth groups, scout troops, families and individual adults. Whether your interest is in leading a donation drive or teaching a skill, answering the phone or landscaping a property, serving a meal or moving furniture, VSH is ready to help you turn your concern into meaningful service that matters.
It is amazing what can be accomplished in one week when everyone works together for the betterment of the community. But hunger and homelessness are not quick fixes, and the problem will continue on after the seven days of awareness have officially ended. When this week ends, we cannot simply forget about the issues as if they no longer need our support and attention. Caring about those without the means to put food in their stomachs or maintain roofs over their heads should become a regular concern in society. Hopefully, communities across the country will get involved this week and be motivated to do more year round.
The awareness week may end on Nov. 20, but homelessness does not have a set end-date. Everyone should take it upon themselves to work toward the day that it does.