Each year in the run-up to the holiday season, we pause to commemorate Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. This year’s event takes place November 12–20.
This annual event, run by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, provides an opportunity to host events that will bolster service and education on behalf of people experiencing hunger and homelessness. It’s a time to enlist volunteers, supporters, and advocates in your mission. And, yes, it’s also an ideal time to reach out to local elected officials and members of the media.
This is such an important moment. In most communities, this will be the time of year when people are most generously conscious of the needs of those with the least. It is a time when people may be more likely to slow down and listen. And considering the divisive times in which we live, the widespread politicization of homelessness, and the sheer volume of misinformation out there about homelessness and those who experience it, this is an essential time to consider what it is that you wish to communicate to those who may attend events in your community.
Of course, you’ll want to share all the great things your organization does each day. But this year, we also encourage you to think about the things you want to set straight for your community. Some starter questions to consider:
- What’s the one thing you think people most misunderstand about homelessness and the people who experience it?
- What is it that you’d most like to clear up about the work you do each day?
- What is the story that best illustrates why you do this work?
- What are the most important things you’ve learned from the thoughts, insights, and guidance you’ve received from people with lived experience of homelessness?
- What experiences in this work have changed and shaped your world view the most?
- What things do you most wish we could all come together and change in our communities so that we could ultimately end homelessness for our neighbors?
There are so many ways to share those insights with the people who join your Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week events. And it doesn’t have to be all that formal. It can be as simple as a conversation with a volunteer as you’re sorting donations or preparing meals. What matters is that we all take the time to reflect on our roles in this mission, and to consider how we can share them to help educate our communities and enlist more of our neighbors in the work to end homelessness.
The Alliance encourages readers to check out the Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week website. There, you can get more information, register your event, or find local events that you can participate in.