Doing your part to help those experiencing homelessness is a tremendously fulfilling experience that can make an enduring impression on someone else’s life.
However, you might have questions about what you can do to help.
“We’re regularly asked how to support those experiencing homelessness in our community,” says David Harrison, Executive Director of FUSION in Federal Way. “There are many ways – you just need to pick your passion, and reach out to an organization in your community.”
Created by community activists at its foundational level, FUSION was founded by Peggy LaPorte and a small group of friends with a vision to help women with children facing homelessness. In 2009 they merged their efforts with the Joseph Foundation to operate with the single mission to help families facing homelessness, under one name – FUSION.
“Many organizations only work with women and single mothers,” says Harrison. “We work with any family with minor aged children in their care, whether it’s single moms and dads, both parents or even grandparents. We’re one of a few in the Puget Sound area who’ll help single males with a child.
“In fact we’ve seen a lot of single dads in the last six months,” he says. “These guys are very motivated to do what it takes to reach their goals – they really work their butts off!”
How you can help
1. Donate items – Make a difference in the lives of people experiencing homelessness by donating essential items like toiletries, clothes, blankets and nutritious food. Organizations like FUSION gladly accept both new and gently used goods like these.
“We look at barriers to housing with a holistic view, so the solutions must be holistic, too,” Harrison says. “Sustainable employment often requires reliable transportation. Our ‘Car Loan’ program allows families to use donated vehicles until they can afford to buy their own.”
2. Donate money – Consider financially aiding those experiencing homelessness through charitable donations. These kinds of gifts will ensure that much-needed resources like housing and medical care are available for people without homes.
“Some of the biggest barriers are move-in costs like application fees, first and last month’s rent, truck rentals and utilities,” Harrison says. “Your donations can help with these expenses.”
3. Volunteer – Help by volunteering your time. Many charitable organizations provide meals, housing and other services for homeless individuals and families. Reach out to one of these organizations to see if they need volunteers. You could also volunteer your skills, such as teaching a class or offering career advice. Inquire about being a FUSION volunteer at email@example.com.
“As an organization, we have an 86 per cent success rate finding permanent housing because we require our clients to commit to doing the work,” Harrison says. “Our case managers help clients set reasonable and attainable goals, and then hold them accountable.
“However, none of this would be possible without support from the community – this is your year to volunteer!”