There are solutions to homelessness. For me, getting involved with the homeless isn’t just about connecting with the people who are suffering, but about finding tangible solutions to the problem. There are organizations who are have measurably made progress in getting people off the streets and into homes. Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to work with two organizations that do great work within the homeless community: Miracle Messages as well as Mobile Loaves & Fishes.
Miracle Messages (MM) is based out of San Francisco, CA. Their mission is to connect people living on the streets with loved ones by recording videos and posting them on social media. To date, MM volunteers have recorded 441 messages, delivered 216 messages to loved ones, and reunited 113 people. Out of those 113 reunions, 25% resulted in stable housing. One connection they made was with Mobile Loaves & Fishes (MLF), based in Austin, TX. MLF is another amazing organization that creates opportunities and provides help to those who have lost more than their homes. I wrote about both of these organizations in previous posts so I was so grateful to be a part of the MM service trip to Austin.
We started our day by making sandwiches for the Mobile Loaves & Fishes truck to distribute to people on the streets. A handful of Miracle Messages volunteers hit the streets along with the MLF truck to record messages and make connections. Simultaneously another group of volunteers searched for the loved one(s) as the videos were recorded. The plan was to follow the truck on its three stops but making connections is definitely not immediate and some folks we met were a little hesitant to record videos at first. After speaking with a few, I met Tiffany. Tiffany had been living on the streets for over a year and she lost touch with her sister. After getting all the information, we recorded a video. Kevin (the founder of MM) decided to start looking in the white pages for possible numbers and we started calling. The second number, was her sister. After speaking with her sister, I gave Tiffany the number and the reconnected within 15 minutes - I didn’t even need to send over the video.
I’m not sure if this will lead to Tiffany no longer being on the streets but at least now she can speak with her sister as often as she would like. Tiffany along with two others seem to just hang out on this corner and I’m not sure where they go at night or if they have a place to stay. One of the women that was with her asked if she knew a shelter she could stay at because she had a bad experience at a women’s shelter in the area. Without getting into it, I looked through the resources I had and honestly, it didn’t help. I called a couple of the places and either they didn’t have any room or the location was difficult to get to. So unfortunately, other than recording videos and hoping to make connections, there was nothing else I could do.
While both these organizations have different goals, they have a similar theme - housing. Housing First has been proven “quickly and successfully connect individuals and families experiencing homelessness to permanent housing without preconditions and barriers to entry, such as sobriety, treatment or service participation requirements.” Because support services are offered, this helps those experiencing homelessness from returning to the streets. Click here to read more.