VOICE: Pick up the pieces and pay it forward

Furthermore, I am in the position of having to protect your own sanity while understanding that my loved one – who has spent most of his life breaking your heart – is doing so because he is unwell and needs help. It’s one of the most emotionally difficult things I’ve ever been through.

November 12-20 has been recognized as National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. I hope people understand that supporting organizations tackling challenges associated with mental health, addiction, hunger and homelessness has a ripple effect far beyond the people who see it a direct benefit. They benefit people like me, someone who had to care for their parent from a physical and emotional distance.

According to 2021 data from Homeless Solutions, 3,397 “households” and 3,987 people are homeless each year in Montgomery County. Additionally, statistics indicate a racial disparity among the homeless, with blacks experiencing homelessness at about the same rate as whites, despite blacks making up only 21% of the county, demographically speaking.

In addition, the shortage of affordable housing makes it difficult for many to find permanent residence. Youth homelessness is also a challenge, especially for LGBTQIA+ youth. In fact, the Williams Institute reports that 40% of homeless youth served by agencies identify as LGBT+.

A 2015 assessment by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development indicates that of the 564,708 people who were homeless on any given night in the United States, 25% suffered from a serious mental illness. People without permanent residence and suffering from mental illness are also more vulnerable to substance abuse.

Because physical and mental well-being are intertwined, lack of access to nutritious food is just another challenge for homeless people, in addition to the 44 million Americans who are at risk of suffering from hunger. Over 30% of the people in the Food Bank service area are food insecure, of which almost 33% are children.

There’s no easy way to overcome these challenges, but we can look to the community leaders who are on the front lines of these battles for guidance. We can support organizations that work directly with people struggling with hunger and homelessness.

Although my father does not reside in Ohio and now has a more permanent living situation, I know that he had supportive communities of people and organizations that helped him when I couldn’t. That’s why I’m so committed to supporting local organizations in Dayton. That’s how I can pay it forward.

In my role at Five Rivers MetroParks, I am fortunate to work with some of our impactful employees and partner organizations. While it’s a grounded story in my opinion, it’s also a love letter to them.

Please consider patronizing, supporting and volunteering for these wonderful organizations during this season of gratitude:

  • Homefull: Provides resources and services related to mental health counseling and addiction treatment. Manages the EBT/SNAP exchange at 2nd Street Market.
  • The Foodbank, Inc.: Acquires and distributes food through a network of agency partners and is a member of Feeding America.
  • Montgomery County Mental Health, Addiction and Alcohol Services: Provides resources for mental health counseling and addiction treatment services.
  • 2nd Street Market: A facility of Five Rivers MetroParks, the market is one of the only fresh produce destinations in downtown Dayton. Most market sellers accept EBT/SNAP and Produce Perksbenefits.
  • Gem City Market: One of West Dayton’s only full-service grocers, the co-op accepts EBT/SNAP benefits and Produce Perks. You do not need to be a member-owner to shop at Gem City Market.

#VOICE #Pick #pieces #pay

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *