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Archive for October, 2010

For most of us, autumn is a time of joy and abundance. Traditionally the period of harvest, we spend this time of year celebrating the changing leaves, cooler temperatures, the upcoming holiday season and, for me in particular, the return of football and the World Series.

But for many of those our local offices serve, the coming of fall does not bring with it any relief from the challenges they battle every day. Hunger and homelessness are problems for all seasons, and we are coming to the time of year when many of our most vulnerable clients need us most. As the temperatures start to drop, a warm place to sleep and a meal can in some cases mean the difference between life and death.

Volunteers of America offers emergency shelter, meals and other services nationwide to those experiencing homelessness and hunger. All over the country, our local offices provide these services to thousands of people ranging from children and teenagers to seniors. Collectively, our local offices are one of the largest recipients of federal assistance grants to help homeless people through street outreach and mobile outreach services. Volunteers of America also serves more than 7,000 homeless veterans in 15 states with programs aimed at addressing addiction, post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues.

Our local offices follow a philosophy that their work does not end until their clients return to self-sufficiency – providing assistance that ranges from paying a first month’s rent to offering permanent supportive housing so that people with disabilities can become stable and productive members of their communities.

To that end, Volunteers of America is one of the largest nonprofit providers of affordable housing in the country. Our local offices provide decent homes to almost 25,000 people in more than 300 communities nationally. We know that in order for people to build strong, successful lives, they must first have a safe and stable place to live.

This fall, as we start to prepare for the upcoming holidays, we must think not only of the joys of this season but also of the great need all around us. But like the colorful leaves that mark the change in season, all people have the capacity to shed those burdens that may have held them back before and reinvent themselves. It may take a long winter of struggle to get there, but just as we can always count on the falling leaves of autumn, we also know that there will always be a springtime of rebirth.

 

– By Mike King, President and CEO, Volunteers of America

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