Homelessness: What Can You Do?

By Kelsie Fields

Homelessness is all around us. We are all aware of it, and although we may want to help, I think it’s safe to say that we don’t always know the best way to go about it. Maybe you want to give money, but don’t know where. Maybe you want to serve, but don’t know how to get involved. Or maybe you just want to learn more about what homelessness looks like in Columbus. Whatever you’re interested in, we want to help you find out more. Check out the list below for information, ideas, and organizations, and please reach out if you have any questions or want to chat! We hope that something on the list will inspire you to get outside of your comfort zone and get involved, but at the very least, we hope it gets you thinking.

Homelessness: the numbers

Based on the results of last year’s Point-in-Time Count organized by the Community Shelter Board, 1,724 were reported as being homeless. This can be broken down into 72% in shelter, 20% unsheltered, and 8% in transition. You can also read about the historical trends of homelessness in Columbus here.

Organizations

If you’re interested in volunteering or getting more involved, check out the organizations below! The following organizations will be joining us at Story618 for the Community Connector on February 22nd, but check them out via the links below in the meantime. And remember, this is not a comprehensive list of organizations making an impact on homelessness in Columbus!

OSU Star House

OSU Star House is a research-based drop-in center for homeless youth in Columbus. OSU Star House provides food, clothing, and hygiene items as well as counseling and resources for healthcare, employment, and sexual wellness. Check out ways to get involved at OSU Star House here.

Community Shelter Board

Community Shelter Board is a collective impact organization leading the community’s response to homelessness by creating collaborations. Community Shelter Board partners with providers in the community in order to connect homeless individuals to needed resources in Columbus. Find out more about Community Shelter Board here.

Mount Carmel Health System

MCHS is a large healthcare system with many hospitals across Ohio. MCHS also operates the Mobile Medical Coach, a mobile truck that offers healthcare services to those who wouldn’t typically be able to access them. Find out how more about the Mobile Medical Coach here.

Vineyard Community Center

Vineyard Community Center is operated by Vineyard Columbus. The Center offers childcare services, summer programs, sports and exercise programs, free health clinics, free legal clinics, immigration counseling services, and more. Check out their website for more info about how to get involved.

Ideas for helping out

  • Donate to local organizations (check out the list above or do your own search for organizations in your area!)
  • Volunteer your time directly serving at a local soup kitchen, shelter, or community center
  • Use your skills to offer pro-bono services to nonprofits serving the homeless
  • Buy month-long COTA passes and keep them in your wallet to offer to someone in need
  • Buy a Street Speech newspaper
  • Participate in next year’s Point-in-Time Count with the Community Shelter Board

If you have any other ideas we should add to our list, feel free to reach out! We would love to connect with you and hear about what you’re doing to end homelessness in Columbus. To connect with other leaders passionate about this issue and to talk with the organizations listed above, join us at Story618! Story618 is an annual event focused around a speaker’s inspirational story, and this year’s keynote is Ron Hall, author of Same Kind of Different as Me. Ron’s story is filled with heartbreak, courage, and unlikely friendship, and we know you’ll leave feeling inspired and encouraged to get involved! Learn more and get tickets at relaleadership.com/2017story618

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Kelsie Fields is a full time student at Ohio State and Program Coordinator at Relā. She can be contacted at kelsiefields@relaleadership.org.

 

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