Monthly Archives: March 2014

Why We’re Here

As you may remember, One Roof partnered with students from UAB’s Inter-professional Global Health Service Learning program last semester to pilot a vulnerability survey in three of our member agencies that provide emergency shelter. The pilot and our partnership with UAB’s IGHSL program reflect our mission to equip and empower our community to prevent and end homelessness through advocacy, education, and the coordination of services. The information we gathered allowed us to better understand the vulnerability of our emergency shelter population, to know how many of these folks are living with serious, yet treatable or manageable health conditions that might cause irreparable damage or death without appropriate treatment and care. The more we know about persons experiencing homelessness in our area, the better we are able to advocate, educate, and coordinate services to meet their needs.

We strive to take every opportunity to equip and empower our community, and this means finding new resources and new community partners. We know that our efforts to prevent and end homelessness are not as visible as they could be. We need more community members to know what we’re doing to prevent and end homelessness and why we’re doing it. Increased support allows us to pursue more projects like the vulnerability survey pilot. These projects allow us to more effectively achieve our mission, and to research and implement tools and practices that will increase the stability of our community members. We will not stop furthering our mission until everyone in our community has a safe, decent, and affordable home, and we need more community support to do this.

One Roof is partnering with a new group of IGHSL students this semester to research ways to increase visibility of our efforts. Our goal: to be more transparent about what we do and gain the support of more service providers, organizations, businesses, concerned citizens, and community members like you. Our students, April, Macy, Caitlin, Jawanza, and Kayla, have shown us that in order to gain more support, we must educate our community and challenge pervasive stereotypes of people experiencing homelessness. We must show our community that each person experiencing homelessness is a person first, not their housing status, mental illness, disabling condition, HIV diagnosis, history of substance abuse, history of domestic violence, veteran status, or any other experience or condition that may have caused them to experience homelessness.

We must show our community that each person deserves stability and a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home. We must take every opportunity to advocate and educate. And we do. And we will. One Roof regularly provides educational opportunities for our members, including workshops like Homelessness 101 (offered quarterly) and Transgender 101 (offered last fall after repeated requests from various members), and guest speakers covering issues related to youth, veterans, domestic violence survivors, inclusive policies, and more at our monthly membership meetings. Our second annual Cardboard Connect, an event for youth ages 13-18 intended to raise awareness of homelessness in our community, is happening this weekend.

We believe that education is necessary to equip and empower members of our community to help us prevent and end homelessness. We have a wealth of knowledge about homelessness in our area, and we want to share it. We want to use this knowledge to help some of the most vulnerable folks in our area.

We recently offered a Homelessness 101 workshop for our IGHSL students to further educate them about homelessness in our area, as well as show them first-hand one of our many efforts to achieve our mission. It’s clear to us that we’ve educated, equipped, and empowered our student partners in a meaningful way:

“This class was a fantastic resource to become more aware of, knowledgeable to, and prepared for serving the overall homeless population, not only in the Birmingham area but also on the state and national level.” -April

“I was shocked about some of the information…such as, in Jefferson County there are approximately 1469 individuals without stable housing. This information was collected by the Point in Time census that occurs every year. I probably would have never known that information if it weren’t for this presentation.” -Jawanza

“The goal when helping any population of people is to make sure they feel as comfortable and as safe as possible, and this workshop teaches you how you can best meet these needs.” -Kayla

“…I believe it is necessary to break such stereotypes when given the chance, and one of the best ways to start this process is by being educated on the topic. That is…why I found One Roof’s workshop presentation on ‘Homelessness 101’ to be invaluable.” -Macy

“Everybody has a story, a reason for the situation they are in, and why they are the way that they are.” -Caitlin

We believe that each person in our community deserves stability and a safe, decent, and affordable home. This belief drives everything we do; it’s why we’re here. Preventing and ending homelessness is a community effort, and we cannot do this without you. Your support allows us to advocate, educate, and coordinate services in the best and most effective way. Together we can make a positive and sustainable change in our community: we can prevent and end homelessness. Click here to support our efforts and learn more about One Roof.

 

Josh Helms is an AmeriCorps member serving at One Roof as the Capacity Building Assistant.

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