Homeless Still Need Help in the Summer!

Joyce Robinson of NEOCH sorts items purchased with SocksPlus funds

It is hot and the dog days of summer.  No one is thinking about homeless people at this time.  Did you know that the population does not decline in the summer.  Yes, the number of men staying in the shelter decreases in the summer.  Many find it easier to sleep outside during the summer.  They use the drop in centers for showers and meals, but spend their time sleeping in tents, under bridges or in abandoned structures.  So, it is not as though they have ended their homelessness as much as they took a break from shelter. 

The number of families experiencing homelessness actually increases during the summer.  Grandma has been helping out the daughter and her kids so that they do not have to change schools during the school year, but cannot take a summer of the kids around the house endangering the Grandma's housing if the landlord finds out.  It is too much of a strain for many families and they relocate to the shelters. 

The homeless outreach teams are out building relationships with people who choose not to use the shelters.  Metanoia outreach staff are delivering hygiene items to guys hanging out at the shower program at St. Malachi.  We are going to the dinners over at St. Patricks to see if there are life sustaining needs that these guys might have.  Care Alliance outreach nurses are taking blood pressure and looking for sleep deprived individuals who live outside.  PATH workers are driving homeless people to medical appointments and making sure that they are taking their medicine.  Our Community West Foundation funded outreach trainees Fred and James are taking out sleeping bags and tents to people who do not want to give up their pet while they are without housing. 

Photo by Bob Tuneberg, from The Villager Newspaper and Crocker Press and Community West FoundationThe point is that homelessness is not just a winter problem.  We have had a large year-round problem with homelessness for 30 years here in Cleveland, and we do not see any relief in the summer.  We need your help.  We need water for those who try to make it off the streets on their own.  We need hygiene kits for those who use the showers at the Cosgrove Center.  It gets cold at night so we still distribute blankets year round.  Here is the list of items that we collect and distribute. We have posted photos on the front of the website to remind people that we need items even during the summer to distribute.  If you can't help with donated items, just send a donation and we will purchase the items to give out.  Just put "outreach" in the memo line so we know that they go to help those living outside.  You can also donate cash to the Community West Foundation to the SocksPlus program.  Those funds go to the outreach collaborative organized by NEOCH.  Thanks for your help.

by Brian Davis

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Socks Plus Program Announced for 2016-17

What can I do to help?  NEOCH, Metanoia Project, Care Alliance, St. Pauls and the Community West Foundation are partnering again to deliver hard to find supplies to those who live outside and in inappropriate places.  We delivered more than a quarter million worth of donations last winter and we want to increase that to $400,000 this year.  NEOCH is the place to bring donations of socks, hygiene kits, water, bookbags for distribution to the outreach teams.  Community West is the place to donate funds to support the Socks Plus program.  With those funds we buy boots, sleeping bags, tents, winter socks, hand warmers and other items that we do not typically see donated.  All the outreach workers can come to NEOCH to pick up winter items and other life sustaining items to give out on the streets. The Winter Drive started in November and runs through April.  We hope that you will participate in the Socks Plus program. 

Brian Davis

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Girl Scouts Collect Socks

Westlake schools and community leaders gave a wonderful evening to celebrate all the good work of the many scouts in the community.  There were some elaborate projects to build libraries for fragile populations and programs to help seniors.  We attended the event because one Girl Scout troop collected socks as part of the SocksPlus program under the Community West Foundation umbrella.  Here are some pictures courtesy of the Foundation.

Here is Denise unloading the items from the Girl Scouts.  We thank them for all their hard work.

 

by Brian Davis

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SocksPlus Campaign Receives Huge Donation

Akram Boutros, CEO of MetroHealth Hospital wears colorful socks every day to work.  The employees decided that in lieu of a birthday gift or a facebook message they would donate Socks to a collection that would be then given to the SocksPlus campaign.   With the help of Dairy Mart, Alcoa employees, the MetroParks, and Geigers employees they collected 6,100 socks and delivered them in an ambulance to NEOCH this week.

 We had Cosgrove Center, St. Malachi, Metanoia, Care Alliance present to receive the donations.  All these socks will go to great use over the next few months.  There were some really nice wool socks that the CEO purchased himself to give to homeless people in Cleveland.  It was a nice event covered by Fox 8 and the Plain Dealer. 

 MetroHealth is going to do a collection for the fall to participate in the 2016-17 Socks Plus Campaign.  Thanks for all the help from everyone who donated.  It is a tremendous help to all of us.

Brian Davis

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Double Your Giving Tuesday Donation

 

Make a donation to the Community West Foundation next Tuesday and they will match the gift.  This means we will be able to double the number of socks that we buy.  We can provide twice as much help to get people inside on the coldest winter days coming up.  We can buy two tents instead of one with your donation, and we can buy twice as many boots this winter as we did last year.  In 2014-15 season, we purchased over 400 pairs of boots for the men and women who do not go into shelter.  We helped 28 people with housing assistance or first months rent and we gave out 1,200 really warm winter socks.  Help us do the same in 2015-16 as we prepare for a wet Cleveland winter. 

We have a web page dedicated to the Socks Plus campaign, and we ask that you tweet about your donation on Tuesday.  Maybe send a picture of your socks that you are wearing when you make your Giving Tuesday donation.  We are at the Clevhomeless on Twitter and use the hashtag #SocksPlus. 

Brian Davis

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SocksPlus Update

R.A Washington, poet

There was a really nice fundraiser last week at 78th Street Studio a facility that I had no idea existed in Cleveland.  Spending most of my existence on the East Side, I cannot understand how I missed this place.  It is a giant warehouse full of artists from all different media.  It is definitely worth a walk through.  Thanks to RA Washington, Katie Daily, and Russell Vidrick for performing poetry at the #SocksPlus benefit last week.   I recorded Vidrick years ago when I did a poetry show on WRUW-FM 91.1 so it was nice to see him again. 

Community West Foundation also held a #SocksPlus campaign this weekend in the Gordon Square area.  We are nearing the end of the second round of boots and backpacks that we are distributing on the streets of Cleveland.  We are purchasing new items for the upcoming month. We are focusing on keeping people dry over the next few months.  We will have a backpack and boots but also rain ponchos, sleeping bags and tents available. We are still working on building relationships with people to get them inside.

Katie Daily, poet

We received a large number of hygiene items from Fairview Hospital this last week.  People have been dropping off socks at the Community West Foundation and sending it to both us from Amazon.com.  We received blankets from Pat Catans and some additional panels to be made into additional blankets.  People have dropped off comforters, and winter items.  We have delivered boxes of clothing to the Cosgrove Center for their weekly giveaways.  We have also involved a couple of additional partners to giveaway the items.  Last weekend, we had a family drop off backpacks full of small gifts and hygiene items for homeless people.   And we are still getting blankets for our blanket drive.  We gave a little over 100 blankets to 2100 Lakeside this week. 

One item that we have not gotten as many as we had hoped through our blanket drive is towels or wash cloths.  Many of the outreach workers have been calling asking for towels, but we really have not seen many donated this week.  We are still doing the blanket drive for another month. 

Brian Davis

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#SocksPlus Benefit for Winter/Spring Items

In the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood at the 78th St. Studio (north of Detroit Ave.) on March 20 the Community West Foundation has organized a poetry slam and photo display. This show will raise funds for the Socks Plus campaign.  We have distributed the first batch of backpacks with boots and socks and we are waiting for the second batch of boots (delayed two weeks).  We are putting in our order for another round of cold weather gear and clothing to keep people dry.  We were also able to keep 12 people safe over the last two weeks of the extreme cold by using some of these funds to put the hardest of our cases into rooming houses. 

Hope that you can attend this fundraiser to support the SocksPlus campaign. 

Brian Davis

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Commercial for the SocksPlus Campaign in Cleveland

If you were watching the Walking Dead marathon this week, you saw the above commercial for the SockPlus campaign.  Thanks to the Community West Foundation for organizing this event.  The men and women started receiving the backpacks full of winter boots and other cold weather items.  NEOCH worked to find the best prices for these items (thanks Galco Army Store on East 71st near Harvard, Vanlly Shoes, and Velotta Uniform for all their help).  We are working on a system for assuring no duplication and the outreach workers are beginning to give all the items away. 

Brian Davis

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Distribution Started on Socks Plus

We have purchased the first back packs full of winter items for homeless people as part of the Socks Plus campaign.  Here is a picture of a group of guys who received a back pack from Denise this weekend.  They were very thankful for the backpack, the new boots in their size, and a pair of long underwear.  The backpacks had winter thermal socks and a light snack along with some handwarmers inside.  The backpacks are really nice durable military grade sturdy equipment and contain equally nice boots that should last throughout the winter.  We have to thank Galco Army Store off Harvard for all their help. 

There is an advertisement running on cable tv right now about the campaign and radio spots on three radio stations including "The Fish."  Here is a copy of the commercial on Youtube.  We will be able to give out these backpacks throughout the winter to guys who stay outside with the help of the Community West Foundation campaign.  We keep them safe while we work on building trust and eventually moving people back to housing.  Socks Plus is our first step to moving people back into a home.

Brian Davis

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Community West Announces Socks Plus Campaign

The Community West Foundation announced their campaign to provide winter socks and boots to homeless people in Cleveland Ohio.  They have produced a nice video with Carl Cook, Tim Walters and Anita Brenan over at St. Malachi.  They have started promoting the campaign on social networking sites, and are producing a public service announcement.  They give very specific items that we are looking to collect this winter, and we have begun filling the orders.  We have purchased the first group of backpacks, boots, socks, long underwear, and gloves, and will begin distributing them. 

This was a good day to remind everyone of the needs homeless people face this winter.  There are thousands of donations to nearly every social service provider in November and December around the holidays.  Then there is this massive effort to provide clothing and services around the Homeless Stand Down.  Now, through March are when people often forget about donating items to homeless people.  We have a list of the items we are collecting here.  Those items, especially socks and boots, that we cannot get donated, Community West has agreed to seek funding to fulfill our needs.  We have taken the sizes of people in need, and are beginning to give them out to people. 

Many of the outreach workers will have access to the donations.  They will record the individual's name and location and give that back to us to track where people are staying.  We will use the donations as a first step to building a trusting relationship.  We will work throughout the rest of the winter and the showers in the Spring to keep people safe with the help of the Socks Plus Campaign.

Brian Davis

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Socks Plus Campaign Begins at Stand Down

In 2014, staff from the Community West Foundation toured some of the encampments around Cleveland and sat down to talk to those who live outside.  Nearly every one they talked to said that they needed warm socks and boots.  The outreach workers also agree that boots and socks are in short supply for most of the year.  Health care clinics are regularly dealing with foot issues because of all the walking done by homeless people.  The Community West Foundation staff caucused and decided to focus some funding on what they are calling the "Socks Plus" campaign to raise support for socks and boots for homeless people who spend a great deal of time outdoors. 

NEOCH is gathering quality socks and boots along with other winter items to distribute to as many people as possible over the next few weeks.  Community West staff, Peter Schindler, attended the homeless Stand Down and then came to the Metanoia Project to see the first distribution of the Socks Plus campaign.  NEOCH outreach worker, Denise Toth, gave away thermal winter socks and thermal hoodies on Saturday evening to everyone at the Metanoia Project.  We are gathering backpacks now that the Stand Down is over to give out to homeless people who are reluctant to go to shelter.  These backpacks will be full of thermal tops, handwarmers, gloves, boots and the thermal socks.   We will continue the distribution through the spring and may add rain ponchos or other items to keep people dry. 

The Second District Police also gave away items this weekend that they collected including new underwear and new socks at Metanoia.  We want to keep people warm and dry this winter. We do not want to see people losing limbs or dying because of the cold in Cleveland.  Our primary goal while working with homeless people is to keep them safe.  The most dangerous time for hypothermia is the spring when it is hard to keep dry.  The lower temperatures and the rain is a killer for homeless people. Thanks to the Community West staff and all those who donate to the Socks Plus campaign. We will keep the community updated about the distribution of these critical items as part of the Socks Plus campaign.

Brian Davis

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Homeless Stand Down 2015

Over 1,500 people including 300 veterans attended the Stand Down today.  It was a very well run and smooth operation thanks to Hands On NEO.  There was an extensive transportation system thanks to Ken from the NEOCH staff.  There were residents of nearly every shelter in Cleveland.  Many social service providers attended including the Department of Aging, Legal Aid Society and the Salvation Army. 

They gave away thousands of pairs of boots and provided over a thousand meals.  The Food Bank were passing out literature and chapstick while First Call for Help talked about all the things they do to assist.  There were foot doctors, eye doctors and people signing the guests up for Medicaid.  There was an entire section for veterans and the Cleveland Photographic society did portraits of hundreds.

It was a really nice event and we posted the first gallery of images on the front page of our website.  The Plain Dealer also posted a nice gallery on their website here.  WKYC and WEWS all showed up to feature the story.  There were 400 volunteers including congregations who put together bag lunches or hygiene kits. 

NEOCH did a survey of some of the participants to ask them about their new year's resolution and their priorities to solve homelessness.  We will publish the resultsin the upcoming Street Chronicle. In the evening we gave out winter socks and thermal hoodies at the Metanoia Project.  This was part of the Community West Foundation Socks Plus campaign.  Community West Staff went out on Outreach and found that most of the people that they met complained that they never could keep their feet warm in the winter.  The Foundation agreed to give the Coalition funding to expand our blanket drive with winter socks and boots.  We did not want to compete against the Stand Down so we picked out items for Stand Down evening that they probably did not get at the Stand Down.  Today we gave really nice Thermal Socks and zip up hoodies with a thermal lining as part of the Community West Socks Plus campaign. We will give out additional items over the next month to keep people warm and safe all thanks to Community West Foundation.