[This post seemed egregiously long, so I split it up]
Today, as part of our Friday Morning Meeting, we had a quick pre-orientation on a service project we’ll be doing on Tues – namely, helping out during Project Connect, a resource fair type of event for the area’s homeless population where they can come to one location (a big local church) and basically run a gauntlet of local social services from applying for a social security card to getting on the list for interim housing to talking to a disability lawyer in the hopes of speeding up disability payments. They will also be able to grab some lunch, get a shower and even get a haircut. (And since volunteers can use the services too, if they’re not currently helping someone else, I may get one, too. Seriously, my hair is downright Ringo-ish again, given that it hasn’t been cut since, like, January. I’m a real low-maintenance type of chick, can ya tell?)
It can be really hard for someone with no transportation and sometimes limited cognitive or emotional capacities to do get access to services they need, in addition to just daily survival. Especially if they have to zig-zag across town several times to various institutions, government offices and organizations just to do one thing. In a not-uncommon example, someone may have to go across town to get Form XYZ in order to get a Social Security card so they can fill out a form to get on a work-training program so they can get housing, which will then entail getting down to the local ReStore to use a furniture voucher…and then someone notices that Form XYZ is missing some information which collapses this house of resource cards, so the whole process starts all over again.
This is anticipated to be a totally cool, maybe even life-changing, event in that pretty much all the local resources (especially the entangled ones that rely on successfully doing everything more or less at once) will be in one place, at one time and weeks worth of yak shaving can be hammered out in one day. Imagine it – dozens of government, local and national organizations all working together in real-time, functional harmony! (I know…I’m already psyched up for the resulting rupture in the space-time continuum that may result. Personally, I’m hoping for shiny peacock-feathered flying unicorns to burst out of the rift. Ooooo…shiny!)
Our role in all this do-goodery is acting as guest ambassadors – welcoming the folks who come in, getting an initial survey filled out, getting them oriented on what help is where and, if asked, accompanying them through the process. The organization hosting the event says they hope to serve 300 people (Asheville has, on average, between 500-600 homeless on any given day). I’m stoked.
Which brings me to today’s Americorps topic, Service Projects (goes to Part 2).