Convening Communities To Solve Causes of Homelessness
There are many soup kitchens or food banks that help the homeless by providing a free meal. And for those facing food insecurity or hunger in Chicago, those meals are an important and appreciated gift.
At the same time, there are many social service agencies in Chicago that can address the underlying causes of homelessness - whether they be a lack of affordable housing, job skills training, or sober mental and physical health. But for Chicago's homeless - who have a strong distrust of others - these services often go unused because of high barriers to entry. Identification and sign-in requirements are often too closely tied to the first step towards getting help.
At Care For Friends, we intentionally create community - inviting friends to a "no questions asked" meal and a few hours of socializing together. Often these are the only contacts our guests have with others in a day. Intermixed in our meal are case workers, sobriety counsellors, doctors, and housing professionals who our homeless friends come to know as individuals first. Later, these trusted relationships allow them to cross the threshold of partner organizations who will ask more of them in their progress towards a better life.
Brian explains how inviting people into the community with no questions asked creates a trust bond that enables homeless guests to receive the services they need to change their life.
And that is the magic of Care For Friends.
Care For Friends's founding President shares a "This I Believe" segment on how conversation in community - between homeless guests, neighbors, business owners, and others can change the world.
A ninth grade student volunteering at Care For Friends explains that his job for the day is simply to talk to our homeless friends and get to know more about them.
A formerly homeless guest explains that sitting down and talking to people is one of the simple things that you can do to help.
"We’ve been impressed with Care For Friends' community-based approach to addressing homelessness in Chicago, and are delighted to be one of the partners they work with to advance their cause."
Geogiana Gleason, Former Executive Director of Episcopal Charities and Community Services, upon announcement of a $30,000 grant ECCS provided to Care For Friends.
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