In Shelter Us, I wanted to highlight the personal story of one homeless family, to humanize a crisis that can be overwhelming when reduced to numbers. I based Josie and Tyler on women and their children I met while volunteering with an agency devoted to helping end family homelessness.
I wanted to show how easy it can be for the bottom drop out, to portray that anyone might be just one bad relationship, or one lost job away from homelessness. But I prefer how one reader expressed this instead, extracting the positive version of that sentiment: “A person in crisis is just one good deed, one good Samaritan away, from succeeding.” Yes!
So this is the deal. If you are here, you can be that good deed do-er, that person who makes the difference for someone who needs just a little boost. And we don’t need to reinvent the wheel to do it. The agencies below are the best of the best at helping people lift themselves back to stability. Please take a look below and offer your support, or seek their help if you need it, and together let’s make a difference.
PATH/Beyond Shelter PATH’s mission is to help homeless individuals and families achieve economic security and well-being, through intensive case management, job training, and housing assistance. They have helped thousands of formerly homeless families, individuals, and veterans, get housed, find employment, and stabilize. Full disclosure: I’m on the Board of PATH. If you want to hear what it’s like to volunteer there, contact me, or contact PATH directly.
Covenant House Each year in the U.S. alone, as many as 2 million youth experience a period of homelessness, and every year more than 5,000 of these young people die on the streets. Covenant House was founded in 1972 with the simple, profound mission to help homeless kids escape the streets.
OPCC Now in its 50th year, OPCC is the largest social services agency on the Westside of Los Angeles. OPCC provides highly effective, fully integrated services to the most traumatized, vulnerable and needy members of our community—homeless individuals, victims of domestic violence, at-risk youth, indigent Veterans, and people dealing with severe physical or mental illness or substance abuse.
Kiva.org Globally, Kiva.org combats poverty by making small loans to borrowers around the world, helping people to improve their own lives. Whether it’s a Kenyan farmer who needs $500 to double her grain production, or a young Bolivian woman who lacks the $1,500 tuition for nursing school, Kiva lenders provide a hand up to these and countless other borrowers.
Help for Grieving Families
Grief and bereavement for the loss of a child are also huge topics in Shelter Us. Below are two communities that help thousands of families.
GriefHaven is a community to support families who have lost a child, including counseling. Its founder, Susan Whitaker, graciously read the manuscript of Shelter Us before it was completed and gave me feedback to ensure it was grounded in truth.
Return to Zero Center for Healing is a resource for parents to find home and healing after the death of a baby, including a child born still, through outreach, education, research, and retreats.