The idea of providing bathroom facilities to the children of homeless families has gained acceptance over the past year since Get Ready 4 School was proposed. “The over-arching goal is to enter these families into the Continuum of Care process that identifies need and directs them to the appropriate community assets,” explains program designer Jeff Smith. “But, some families have problems that keep them out of the system, like recidivism and legal problems. We won’t let those kids suffer as a result.”
If you want to know about how your agency or foundation can create a chapter of the Kidz Klub healthy family club call Jeff (direct) at 941-321-3177. “When I lacked access to facilities, I joined a gym that was offering a special introductory membership,” he remembers. “For ten bucks, I went from dirty and uncomfortable to being respectable-looking and regular.
After viewing this 60 Minutes feature, I got to thinking. Please take a few minutes to watch it, or to refresh your own memory. As you do, try to imagine how you would deal with a similar situation.
“If you’re not part of the solution,
you’re part of the problem.”
Before this became a radical 60’s slogan, it was a philosophical concept, based in Biblical, Asian and ancient Africa thought. Unfortunately, it’s also an inescapable truth. As our shared societal challenges become more pressing, it becomes increasingly incumbent upon us to address those issues. Avoiding our problems compounds them, makes them more difficult to resolve later and fosters new difficulties.
Using the same logic, by offering (and contributing to) the solutions, we can slow or reverse our problems, begin to see substantive change and avoid creating related crises.
Nowhere is this corollary more true than in preparing our children for the challenges of life.
Trinity Without Borders would like to thank Austin Jambor, everyone at Burns Court Cafe, and especially the generous donors who are helping launch the Get Ready 4 School initiative at their facilities. Anyone who wants details or wishes to visit the site should contact Vallerie Guillory, by calling (941) 312-6633..
Get Ready 4 School, the Healthy Family Club for children of homeless families, has been adopted by Trinity Without Borders, club founder Jeff Smith announced today. The partnership will be formally announced at a special event, Friday November 14th at 5PM. The Burns Court Café is hosting a benefit exhibition and sale, featuring the work of local photographer Austin Jambor.
Winter Beauty by Austin Jambor
Get Ready 4 School was conceived early this year, as a response to the need to provide clean, safe and legitimate bathing and bathroom facilities to the children who lack them, as they prepare for the school day. “Trinity Without Borders is uniquely qualified to administer this program”, says Director Vallerie Guillory. “The properties we are developing have the infrastructure necessary to do this in a way that can both provide for the children anddirect parents toward the services they need, but might not know exist”.
Austin Jambor’s photographic exhibition includes work he produced while traveling with his wife, Julie, through Spain, France, Panama and the U.S. All of the work displayed will be available for purchase and proceeds from the sales will benefit Trinity Without Borders, a 501(c)3 charity and support their work with homeless children, families and veterans.
A brief announcement will be made at 6PM, to thank Mr. Jambor and the Burns Court Café for their generosity and explain the exceptional work of Trinity Without Borders and the Get Ready 4 School program. All Partnership and Continuum friends and community members are invited to attend.
401 S Pineapple Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236
Here are seven things about being a homeless kid that you probably didn’t know:
1. Making friends is harder when you’re homeless.
Carey Fuller, who lives in her car with her 11-year-old daughter Maggie Warner in the Pacific Northwest, said she “cringed” when she recently took Maggie out to play in a park. Things were going fine until “someone asked her where she lived,” Fuller explained. It’s the death knell question, the one that throws the wet blanket on the playdate and it’s usually just a matter of seconds before the other kid takes off in the direction of someone else.
“Maggie smiled and I changed the subject and off they went to play until it was time to go just before sunset,” said Fuller. A happy ending, this time. Yes, it has happened more than once. Not to state the obvious, but you can’t have kids over to play or have a friend sleep over if your home is the car.
Fuller became homeless after losing her job in the financial services sector in Seattle. Initially, the family downsized to a smaller apartment, but when that still proved too costly, Fuller bought an RV and moved into it with her two daughters. Maggie was a toddler at the time. The family has since downsized to a minivan. Fuller, who takes whatever part-time work she can find, is well-known as an advocate for homeless kids and writes about her life as a homeless mother living in a van.
2. Birthdays can be disappointing for a homeless kid.
Forget having a big party with lots of friends coming over. Sure you can have a party in the park if it’s a nice day. But who is going to pay for the pizza and cake and if people give you presents, where will you put them anyway?
This year Birthday Dreams brought over a cake and a gift when Maggie turned 11. For the past five years, Birthday Dreams has been providing birthday parties to homeless children in the Puget Sound area. A lot of homeless kids have never seen their names on a birthday cakes, notes the Birthday Dreams website. And yeah, they get pretty thrilled.
Gift cards or a credit to the grocery store where they can buy fresh fruit and pre-made meals makes more sense. But some donors are reluctant to do this because they think homeless people will use the money for beer or alcohol.
4. Homeless kids aren’t as healthy as kids with homes.
The National Center on Family Homelessness says that homeless kids have four times as many respiratory infections, twice as many ear infections and five times more gastrointestinal problems. They are three times more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems than non-homeless children.
Being homeless is stressful and practicing good hygiene is harder when you don’t have ready access to bathrooms, sinks and showers. Homeless kids are also exposed to the weather and elements. Homelessness is connected to poverty and when you are poor, you often must rely on free clinics for health care; seeing doctors is not a regular thing.
Try as they might, getting good grades is just harder when you are a homeless kid. For one, your parents — and statistically speaking, you likely live with just your mom — are probably busy trying to find food and safe shelter each night. There’s no dining room table around which to gather, spread out your books and notes and do homework together. A lot of homeless kids rely on the public library as the safe, warm place to do homework — you can even use a computer there. But budget cuts have reduced library hours and, by extension, study time. You can’t study if there are no lights on in your car. Not having a place to study matters a lot. If the teacher gives the class a project, you and your project partners will need to meet in the library or at their house. Same is true for study groups.
6. Homeless kids put up with a lot of daily indignities, small things that you probably don’t realize.
They appreciate getting your used clothing donations, but once in a while they’d like to wear something without some other kid’s name written in it. They also don’t feel great sneaking in the school bathroom before class to brush their teeth, but it’s often the only place available. Maybe there’s a way to issue them a free lunch card that looks like the lunch card everyone else uses? If their family doesn’t have a post office box, it’s hard to mail home their report card. They don’t want everyone to know if the PTA paid for them to go on the class field trip. School projects that involve a trip to the crafts store for supplies pose a special burden on their families who can’t afford it. Participating in sports sounds great, but soccer cleats and baseball uniforms aren’t exactly in the budget. A lost textbook is a problem for a regular kid; a lost textbook is a catastrophe for a homeless kid.
7. Homeless kids are a pretty resilient lot.
When The Huffington Post asked Maggie what she wanted to say to our readers, this is what she said: “Never give up and never stop hoping things will get better even when you feel like you’re at the bottom.”
Get Ready 4 School was conceived early this year, as a response to the need to provide clean, safe and legitimate bathing and bathroom facilities to the children who lack them, as they prepare for the school day. “Trinity Without Borders is uniquely qualified to administer this program”, says Director Vallerie Guillory. “The properties we are developing have the infrastructure necessary to do this in a way that can both provide for the children and direct parents toward the services they need, but might not know exist”.
Get Ready 4 School is pleased to announce that we have entered into a sharing agreement with Yes Sobriety Mentoring, sober resource provider in the Sarasota area. To defray costs, our two groups will share a phone line, office space and other resources.
The correlation between homelessness and substance abuse is profound. Because of the symbiotic relationship between these two societal problems, the partnering of our efforts is both sensible and practical.
James Matthews is a remarkable young man. He plays a mean piano, as his recent Honorable Mention in the 2014 American Protege International Piano and Strings Competition proves. But, his story is even more inspirational as a demonstration of the valuable potential of people who end up homeless.
Mr. Matthews, as a struggling student, slept for a while in his instructor’s music studio. Under these less-than-ideal circumstances he persevered and refined his music gift, ultimately achieving every musician’s dream: a gig at Carnegie Hall in NYC. Read his story here.
Irrational fear of homeless American citizens appears in many forms. We might glance away or discard a job application. We may say “Beat it!” or even call the cops. But, when it comes to locating a homeless resource center in an urban core, decision-makers frequently employ all kinds of arguments, some with hidden messages. Property values, crime rates and City image are often cited in the debate.
Sarasota is currently addressing the issue of homelessness; discussing the very services that could help individuals like Matthews. City and County officials are debating the pros and cons of various approaches to the problem, possible sites for a multifunction shelter and wrestling with budget concerns. Some people cite cases of increased police calls, data showing drops in housing prices and even the ubiquitous “Homeland Security” as reasons to locate a shelter anywhere other than their neighborhood. However, the trouble with using data alone to prove a point is that C doesn’t always follow A and B. For instance, a shelter was built in 2008. Property values in the area went down. Were the homeless to blame? Anybody who lived through the “great recession” knows that’s just silly.
Does this mean that careful attention to the environmental and societal impact of site selection is unnecessary while dealing with the issue of homelessness? Of course not; no more than the reverse is true. On April 1, the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners “workshop” Q&A helped allay some of those irrational fears. Analysis of data by Dr. Robert Marbut and others over many years has stubbornly refused to predict a doomsday scenario despite rising numbers in some areas.
As we proceed, we would do well to remember the ultimate reality. Homelessness is not a crime.
GET READY 4 SCHOOL is looking for a suitable location for a not-for-profit Healthy Family Club, providing healthy morning routines to Sarasota school children. Ideally, we would like to revitalize a small, closed and vacated gym or spa, equipped with men’s and women’s showers, lockers and offices.
We have qualified professionals ready to make improvements, eager donors of goods and services… and a definite need. If you know of a vacant space previously used as a gym, spa or athletic club, we need to talk. We are prepared to pay, barter or allow tax-deductible donations for funding, goods, services and locations.