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Homelessness is a circumstance, not a choice

December 10, 2010

“I have a [college] degree, but so do thousands of others in this city. What I don’t have is a job; therefore, I don’t have income and now I don’t have a house.”

This is just one of the many stories I heard during the Project Homeless Connect event on November 10. Listening to this one client’s story helped me realize that I could be the next homeless person receiving services, rather than the next volunteer in line to escort this client to her destination to receive service. Walking around Cashman Center and seeing all of the businesses and organizations that came out to help was an overwhelming experience. There were quite a few services provided that day, including: dental, cosmetology, social services, free clothing, food, health… the list goes on and on.

I had the awesome pleasure of working with the volunteers, clients and service providers, so I was able to gain a much greater understanding and appreciation for the event and what inspired everyone to come out. Stories on how people became homeless, stories from volunteers regarding how they feel that they might be next because they have been unemployed for months and stories from service providers how this is a passion and why they are in the field they’re in, which is to help whoever they can, whenever they can.

My story… my volunteer experience started as a job requirement and quickly became a reality check. No one is untouchable. Homelessness is ignorant and blind. Homelessness does not know gender, age, ethnicity or heritage. However, homelessness is only someone’s situation, it is NOT who they are. Out of all the stories I heard, not once did I hear someone say they chose to be homeless. Homelessness is just a circumstance that happened to the hundreds of people served that day.

The overall volunteer experience was extremely worthwhile and I would encourage any and everyone to volunteer in some capacity. By doing something as small as donating one clothing item that you no longer wear to someone in need, spending time at nursing home or cleaning your neighborhood park, you are making a big difference in someone’s life.

A big thanks to our guest blogger Kalah who is also participating as an AmeriCorps VISTA member.  Kalah was a part of the Volunteer Center team checking in volunteers for the Project Homeless Connect event.  We hope she’ll share more of her experiences with us here so check back to see what new adventures are happening in southern Nevada!

If you are interested in sharing your time and talents in a way that can benefit the homeless click HERE to see the opportunities that are currently available.

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