Here at the Alliance, we work collaboratively with policy makers, researchers, advocates, and practitioners to end homelessness. However, there is one key component to this team that we should also remember: our supporters.
This past holiday season, the Alliance heard from thousands of new and current donors who said “Enough is enough. We CAN end homelessness.” But even more astounding were the actions of everyday Americans that went above and beyond, in an effort to make this a reality. I would like to share the stories of a few people who not only support the Alliance, but have committed to ending and spreading the awareness of homelessness.
Braving Winter on the Streets in North Dakota
Mr. Eric Jungels of Fargo, North Dakota, spent ten nights last December sleeping outside, in a tent, to spread awareness and raise money for the Alliance. Astoundingly, this was not the first time Eric had spent winter nights out in the cold to bring attention to the issue of homelessness. In 2011, he did a similar fundraiser in St. Cloud, Minnesota. His actions caught the attention of the media, which helped further the reach of his message; that there are viable solutions to homelessness. Thanks to this attention, Eric not only doubled his fundraising goals (both years) but connected with thousands more about the issue.
Homelessness Seen Through Eyes of Artist
Mr. Daniel Miller, an artist and painter in Las Vegas, Nevada, initiated a series of oil paintings, inspired by the sights of homeless individuals in his community. His desire was to call attention to the issue by conveying their images through art and sharing their stories. Daniel’s paintings were included in an art show called ‘Third World America’, from which he donated 50 percent of the sale proceeds to the Alliance. The show and subject matter received an incredible amount of attention and, due to popular demand, was extended an additional two weeks.
Students Step Forward
Education is an important component to solving this issue, and that includes educating not only the public and policy makers, but future generations of advocates and practitioners. Across the country, students of all ages are including the issue of homelessness in their studies. A high school English teacher outside of Chicago, Illinois challenged her class to choose a cause and write an essay about a nonprofit they cared about. The class would raise money for the top causes based on the persuasiveness of those essays. One student chose homelessness and the Alliance for the assignment. Her essay not only won an award for best essay but resulted in a class donation to the Alliance.
At the University of San Diego, an Abnormal Psychology class undertook a project to develop grants, which required them to research areas where additional funding could potentially lead to greater progress in the treatment of those with mental illness. Much like the English class in Illinois, the students presented and then voted on the best project, awarding the winner the classes grant money. While topics covered a wide range of issues, the winning project was ‘Addressing Homelessness Among Individuals with Serious Mental Illness’. The four students who presented the project selected the Alliance as the beneficiary of the class grant money. The Alliance is not only grateful for the support from these high school and college students, but thrilled that students are educating themselves on the issue of homelessness in America.
At the Alliance, we say that TOGETHER we CAN end homelessness, and these stories prove that the interest is there to do just that. Every day Americans believe that we can solve this issue and are taking actions to see it through. To that, the Alliance says thank you.