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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Share the River Presents the Burning River Ramble on June 22


Cleveland, Ohio (June 20, 2017) — Seeking to physically connect people with the great things happening along Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River, Share the River, in partnership with Run Wild CLE, will host the Burning River Ramble, a free, pop-up, 4.2 mile, all-ages running/walking tour of Cleveland’s evolving waterfront at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 22 (the anniversary of the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire).

The Ramble’s route is designed to connect the dots between the Cuyahoga River’s property segments that have either recently changed to a park/paved path or are being considered for such (i.e. Irishtown Bend). The Ramble will also provide an opportunity for paricpants to see what the Cuyahoga River looks and feels like NOW as opposed to those lingering memories from the bad ol’ days.


The Burning River Ramble will start near the south end of the Columbus Road Bridge (across from the Hoopples parking lot) and finish between the Cleveland Rowing Foundation and Merwin’s Wharf at Rivergate Park. The route will pass through Scranton Flats, both sections of the Cleveland Foundation Centennial Lake Link Trail (including the newly opened northern end on the west bank of the flats), a portion of Cleveland Rotary’s Red Line Greenway and Irishtown Bend. Event and route details are at: http://sharetheriver.com/blog/2017/6/15/here-comes-the-burning-river-ramble
Immediately after the Ramble, participants will have an opportunity to connect with Cuyahoga River and Ramble route stakeholders at a meet and greet at Brick and Barrel Brewing. Our charity partner for the Burning River Ramble is the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and free will donations will be accepted at the meet and greet or online.

About Share the River:
The mission of the Share the River is to promote the economic, social and recreational vibrancy of Cleveland’s waterfront. For more information, visit Share the River’s website, Facebook or Twitter.

From the Share the River Press Release and the opinions of Share the River staff

Thank You for the Donations: Keep them Coming

 

We have been getting a lot of donations over the last two weeks.  We also got boots in from the SocksPlus program through Community West Foundation.  We take these items for donations.

  • New Socks
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Tents
  • Plastic Tarps
  • Tissues/Baby Wipes
  • Gloves/winter hats
  • RTA one day bus tickets
  • Backpacks
  • Sleeping bags
  • Blankets esp. outdoor heavy duty blankets with plastic on one side
  • New Underwear (any sizes) esp. long underwear.
  • Towels/hand wash cloths
  • Bottled water
  • Hygiene Kits to include: Trial size soaps, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, toothbrush, disposable razor, lip balm in a freezer bag.

We typically do not take clothing or sweaters because we would just be overwhelmed and we don't have the space.  There are many who would take the clothing items and make it available to homeless people.  I know that all the organizations are struggling with space as well, but there are plenty of groups who take the clothing.  It is okay to donate clothing to those who come and pick them up.  Sure, they sell the clohing, but it goes to a good cause.  Why do we care where our cast off clothing goes? 

Here is our page on donations available.  Here is the page on SocksPlus to give more details on how to donate. 

Brian Davis

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How You Can Help During the Holidays

Giving to an Agency is Still Helping And They Can Multiply Your Donations to Serve Hundreds

Each year as the holidays approach NEOCH receives many calls from well-meaning individuals wanting to personally help the homeless by taking them gifts, blankets and food.  We are asked where the homeless gather and where they can find the tent cities, the homes that unsheltered people live in.  The following is NEOCH’s response to those requests.

It is not the best public policy to encourage people to stay outside with the hope that a Good Samaritan will come by to help a guy struggling with mental illness, anger issues, addiction or PTSD.  We encourage homeless people to go inside to libraries, drop in centers and meal programs during these cold weather days. 

We do not provide home addresses of homeless people because no one wants a stranger showing up at their home offering gifts.  No one would want the Coalition to give out the home address of the readers of this blog so that some well-meaning religious person could show up at theirdoor to offer you something that you did not ask for.  It is dangerous to be wandering around the streets of Cleveland with presents to give out to random people who look homeless.  You may be hurt by an addict looking for a score.  If you really want to give directly to an individual then give to a panhandler who is visible typically in a well lit area, but understand that most panhandlers are not homeless and whatever they say on their signs are most likely hype similar to advertisements for free phones by cell phone companies.

There are many agencies who spend the whole year developing relationships with homeless people.  Give to them if you want to help or you can volunteer with them.  These agencies and outreach workers know the needs of each one of the unsheltered homeless and can best meet those needs if they are the ones handing out the donated items.  These agencies have professionally trained staff to help and they are aware of the dangers and mental issues of their clients.   Here are a few agencies who employ staff to go out and help those living rough outside: Care Alliance, Metanoia, 2100 Lakeside, Frontline Services, CWRU Labre, St Ignatius Labre, Salvation Army,  JCU Labre, Sub Zero Mission and the VA.

There was a really good episode of the TruTV series Adam Ruins Everything called Adam Ruins Giving who busts many of the myths about canned food drives, donating and clothing drives.  He publishes the facts referenced in the episode here.  The show pointed out an agency like NEOCH, the Foodbank, Salvation Army, or West Side Catholic can take your cold hard cash and turn it into serving hundreds of people.  We can have staff search around for businesses who will give us a deep discount or even free stuff because they have a relationship with us.  We got a donation a couple of weeks ago and the donor was wanting to spend a thousand dollars at an Army Navy store for homeless people, but the owner had to charge retail prices for the items.  Instead the donor gave to NEOCH and we got 35% more for our money at the same store, because the store can donate to a non-profit but could not donate to an individual.   I know it is not as personal as giving directly to a person, but it is way better for society. Yes, all the non-profits have overhead and administration costs, but that just means paying a person to call around for the best price and then going over to pick up the items and prepare them for distribution. 

We have a number of places on our website that you can volunteer and directly serve homeless people. As mentioned in the Plain Dealer story there are plenty of places to donate who provide items directly to homeless people.  They include:

I know you have seen it on TV or on the movies that you want to brighten the day of the less fortunate during the holidays.  But homeless people need help year around and are overwhelmed with food, presents, and good will during the holidays.  They are often burnt out from all the good will and may not be appreciative of the help.  Donors may be disappointed that the homeless person does not seem appreciative of the help.  Many are dealing with overwhelming life issues and are carrying heavy burdens or struggle with a mental illness which may make them lash out.   We cannot give out the "home" addresses of those struggling with housing.   If you want to help the homeless community there are plenty of better ways to do that.  Even with the best intentions,  just popping into a homeless gathering place with a few presents could cause more problems than not.  You may not have enough for everyone, causing resentment and calls of favoritism or hurt feelings.  Finding someone who already works with this population and knows the people personally is the best way.  Check out the website for good ideas for helping.

Happy Holidays!

Brian Davis

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Homeless Need Blankets and Hygiene Kits

It is that time of year again to remember the hundreds of people who do not use the shelters in Cleveland.  Socks Plus, our partnership with Community West Foundation, Care Alliance, St. Pauls Community Church, and Metanoia.  We have already received our first shipment of boots and other supplies. We are real low on blankets and hygiene kits.  We are available for drop off from 9 to 4:30 p.m. nearly every day.  We need your help with winter items to give out on the streets. We have an updated flyer that you could print out and distribute.

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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Call for Donations!

We are currently running extremely low on hygiene kits and are reaching out to ask for donations in order to make new ones. A good hygiene kit includes soap, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, a toothbrush, a razor, hand sanitizer and women's sanitary products. Also very much needed in the summer are water bottles, which we just ran out of, and bugspray. 

All donations are deeply appreciated by NEOCH and the homeless members of our community who receive them. You can bring your donations to our office located at 3631 Perkins Ave. between 9 and 4:30 p.m.  Feel free to call us with any questions about donating at (216) 432-0540 for Saturday hours. 

Our donations drop off pretty significantly in the summer compared to the winter, but there are even more people sleeping outside today then there were in December.  We really could use your help today with water and hygiene kits. We don't take clothing, but could use everything else.  Here is a list of possible items.

Megan the intern

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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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Other Things to Donate

One of our friends who lives outside saw the post about donations needed in the summer and wanted to add a few things to the list.  We give out items all year round, (click on the link to view our list) but here are a few things that we need for the summer:

  • Rope and plastic canvases especially larger plastic with ring holes for the rope are very helpful.   This is to fortify places against the elements. 
  • Blankets--we are actually out of blankets right now.  We are overwhelmed with blankets in the winter, but at a loss in the summer. 
  • Tents are at a premium during the summer, and we can always use those portable for the guys who decide not to utilize the overcrowded shelters.
  • Towels, washcloths and sheets.  We typically give most of the sheets to the shelters, but most homeless people need towels and washcloths.  These are big items that go really fast when we get them in.

During the summer the number of families increase, and over the last three years this has been especially acute.  We have had to start busing families to an overflow center to serve everyone asking for shelter during the summer.  This overflow center is closing this month, and I have no idea what will happen to families in September.  I have not heard from anyone what will happen if more families show up asking for shelter than we have beds.  Here are a few items that the Coordinated Intake could use:

  • Baby Formula and small new play toys
  • Diapers and car seats
  • Strollers and snacks for young kids (breakfast bars, dried fruit, dry cereal, etc.)

If you have items for those living outside or for Coordinated Intake, you can drop them at NEOCH and we will get them to the appropriate people seeking help.  You may ask, "Why do I have to drop them off when some groups come out and pick them up?"  That is true that there are groups that pick up clothing and household items, but those groups often sell their items to fund their transportation and storage.  We are not spending our time going to the suburbs to pick up items.  We are spending our time distributing the items donated to those seeking help.  If you want to guarantee that the items you donate will go to people in need for FREE, then you have to do part of the work.  You will have to drop them off at those groups who are distributing the items to those living in the shelters or on the streets.  If you don't mind that a percentage of your donation is sold to make money for the non-profit then call one of those groups who comes around to pick up your gently used items. 

Brian Davis

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Homeless People Need Help Even in Summer

There is a family of 3, soon to be 4 whom Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless has helped find an apartment on the westside of Cleveland. This family has no possessions! They moved into their apartment 2 days ago and now they are in need of everything except appliances. They need beds, or mattresses, furniture (baby items needed by December). All kitchen supplies, linens, etc. They need a fan immediately if anyone has an extra one. The 3 year old girl could use some toys also. He is working spot labor and is in search of a full-time job. If anyone can help this family out, please call Randall or Denise (street outreach worker at NEOCH) at 216-432-0540 or email housingcleveland@neoch.org.

The number of families asking for help is also up at Coordinated Intake in Cleveland.  They could use diapers and other items for toddlers and babies.  They need female hygiene items and everyone can use hygiene kits.  We have a list of items that NEOCH collects and you can drop off at NEOCH from 9 to 4:30 any day.  Sometimes we even have hours on the weekend.  The Coordinated intake site is at 1736 Superior on the second floor from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.   This is in the Cosgrove Center and they take clothing and distribute them to homeless people on the first floor.   Please remember homeless people suffer in this hot weather and our homeless family population grow dramatically in the summer. 


Brian Davis

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How to Make the Grocery Bag Sleeping Mats

Grocery Bag Sleeping Mat

Dimensions: 32-36 inches by 72 inches

Material

  • 10mm crotchet hook (P Size), or larger
  • Scissors
  • 500-700 Grocery bags
  • 4 Hefty refuse liner black bags, 45 gal. size

Directions

  1. Cut off handles and holding tabs of grocery bag
  2. Cut off the bottom seam
  • You are now left with a square
  1. Cut from side-to-side into 4 equal parts
  2. Take 2 Loop circular pieces and knot them together to create your plastic yarn
  3. Continue knotting rest of the pieces together
  4. Crotchet your plastic yarn into a mat

Notes:

  • Make sure loops are even
  • One single crotchet stitch
  • Crotchet in the back loop of the stitch when you turn over. It makes them a little more comfortable I think. It gives them that ridge which might keep out the dampness better.
  • Not all 500-700 bags need to be cut at one time, it can be done in sections.  Cutting the bags takes the most time, and can be done as a team.

Follow up Videos can be found here:

 For Questions call NEOCH at 216/432-0540 or leave a comment below this listing

by Dan the Intern

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Donations Still Needed

We made it through the horrible winter.  We had a report of one person suffering from frost bite and losing fingers, but no reports of people freezing to death.  We have to thank Community West Foundation for helping with all the donations and helping with putting people into motels during the extreme weather.  It was tough, but outreach teams, St. Pauls, Labre and Metanoia did a ton of work keeping people safe.  

It is spring and still a dangerous time.  Hypothermia is still a threat because people get wet and then it gets cold at night.  They may have prepared for the winter and the snow, and may let their guard down for the spring.  They may not have as many blankets or plastic or clothing as they had for the winter.  We are still collecting and distributing items. We have updated our flyer for the spring and that is available to print out and distribute. We give out items to the outreach teams every week. 

Flyer to print out and distribute

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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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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