National charity gives supporters volunteer opportunities across the country
By Peter Simons
Throughout its 26 year history, HomeAid has been primarily known for the numerous housing projects it has built for charities helping the homeless. Indeed, over those years, HomeAid has built over 400 projects valued at over $200 million in 20 markets across the country. However, increasingly over the last several years, HomeAid has broadened its mission to include smaller volunteer efforts to help these same charities.
These community outreach programs, called HomeAid Essentials and HomeAid Care Days, allow companies, civic groups, and other organizations to offer their time and resources to conduct activities that can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, to help the homeless in their communities. These undertakings can be projects to spruce up existing shelter facilities, gatherings to collect and distribute hygiene or baby products for homeless organizations, or other group activities that help those in our communities that are also in need.
The following are a few examples of successful HomeAid Community Outreach activities across the country:
In Atlanta, HomeAid’s local chapter started HomeAid Essentials for Young Lives back in 2002, to give participating groups the chance to collect, sort, and distribute baby items such as diapers, wipes, and other products for local non-profits helping homeless mothers and children. These items can cost thousands of dollars a year, so providing them to these shelters for free is a huge benefit. With the help of local partners like Bank of America, State Bank & Trust, and UPS, HomeAid Atlanta has collected over 749,000 items over the past several years.
In Orange County, Calif., the Essentials drive has been taken to a whole new level over the last few years as homebuilders have turned the effort into a friendly competition (as they often do!) and this year, Builders for Babies collected over 1.2 million diapers! Some builders, including Lennar, Shea Homes, and The New Home Company, even used the diaper packages to build playhouses and held a full day event to celebrate the effort and stage the delivery of the products.
In Northern Virginia, the chapter recently launched their “Helping Hands” program which brings together community groups or businesses to provide much needed resources to local service providers. They recently created a campaign called, “Fill the Fridge!” which launches food drives throughout the community to help combat hunger for homeless families and children.
In Las Vegas, the new HomeAid Southern Nevada chapter has created the Back to School Success Drive to collect and fill new back packs with school items for homeless teens staying at shelters they support. This Fall, over 600 school kids in the Las Vegas area will be helped by this program.
HomeAid Care Days have also been a favorite activity for chapters across the country as they give companies the chance to gather volunteers to do light construction work—painting, landscaping, repairs, etc.—to facilities built by HomeAid in the past. Some stellar examples of this work include HomeAid Colorado’s creation of a garden and playground for Colorado Homeless Families, and HomeAid Southeastern Michigan’s building a new porch and applying fresh exterior painting for Grace Centers of Hope.
HomeAid’s Community Outreach efforts come to a head every November when the nation recognizes Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week just before Thanksgiving. HomeAid turns the entire month into a chance to conduct their community outreach activities across the nation to marshal the resources of the building industry and the community at large to help bring awareness to and concrete help for the plight of the homeless and those in need.
Every year, over 3.5 million people experience homelessness in this country, and 1.3 million of them are children. Over 80 percent of these people are just situationally homeless: victims of domestic abuse, natural disasters, medical or financial crises, or veterans coming home from overseas. With the help of HomeAid and its building industry partners, these people can be given a second chance to reclaim their self-sufficiency, and with it, dignified and productive lives. We urge you to reach out to your local HomeAid chapter (visit www.homeaid.org) to find one, and join these community outreach efforts to be part of the solution.
• HomeAid Essentials and HomeAid Care Days allow companies, civic groups, and other organizations to offer their time and to help the homeless in their communities
Peter Simons is the CEO of HomeAid. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.