With our mission in mind, we started to serve the community with what we had... to do what we could. We began to develop relationships with individuals who were homeless, in shelters, or transitional housing to act as agents of change through referrals, positive encouragement, and self-esteem building through Takin' It To The Streets, our outreach to the individuals who are homeless and/or in need from the community. What began as a once-a-month mobile outreach in 2001 has developed into a weekly program at two locations.
On a weekly basis, a dedicated group of volunteers are "takin it (hope) to the streets" of Detroit. Every Saturday, you will find this group at Roosevelt Park, located in front of the old train station at Michigan Avenue and W. Vernor. The old train station is a dark, ominous giant lurking on the horizon but you can see the sun shine right through its skeletal remains on a sunny day. We want to be that ray of sunshine in the lives of the people we reach out to. At this location, our donors and volunteers provide a hot meal, clothing (available for distribution as donations provide) and a referral card with reference numbers for various service provider agencies. The second location has been dubbed "Sweets on the Streets" and is located in the Cass corridor where there is an outpouring of soup, sandwiches and meals. The one thing lacking, according to a former shelter resident, was dessert. Bake Station II in West Bloomfield, Michigan has made it possible through donations for us to offer sweets at both locations.
Through this program our goal is to not only provide food and clothing but to educate the public, increase public awareness and equip participants with preventative tools in regards to various social issues including, but not limited to, drug and alcohol dependencies, domestic violence, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/Aids, and other health issues. In this manner, we will be lessening the affliction that occurs in poverty or homeless households.
Provide food and clothing outreach service for homeless one Saturday per month for 12 months.
* Serve 80-100 meals every Saturday.
* Distribute average of 50 clothing sets per week.
* Distribute average of 50 referral cards as documented by sign-in sheets
*Supply participants with meal, clothing & referral information
* Locate additional resources for food and clothing donations
*Sort & clean clothing donations
*Develop active resource/referral listing in order to update referral cards
* Develop system for maintaining and tracking clients served each month through information supplied on sign-in sheets.
*Volunteers fill out quarterly satisfaction surveys to document previous statements made (i.e.: "This has really made me appreciate what I have and where I could still be." "I remember standing in lines like these and it feels so good to be able to give back." "I can't explain what this does for me but I know it makes me happy to see the gratitude in the eyes of the recipients. I sometimes feel like I'm getting more than I'm giving.")
*Participants have complimented our meals ("This is really good. Can I have seconds?" "Boy, a dessert too?!" "You can tell this was cooked with love.")
*Participants have made statements of appreciation for the hot meal, friendly attitudes of volunteers and that they know God exists because we come faithfully month after month. Several have mentioned that they have come to trust we will be there no matter rain, shine or snow.
*A volunteer manual and directional cards have been generated as a result of relocation of assembly at outreach. This will help to facilitate volunteers knowing how to better serve in the various positions.
100% of the participants were fed a balanced hot meal including drink, meat, vegetable and dessert along with necessary utensils (fork/spook, napkin & food container). 95% received a clean change of clothing. 5% unable to find appropriate size or didn't want clothing. 100% received a business card with referral numbers to various help organizations directly relating to possible causes for homelessness and solutions to immediate/long term. Some have mentioned they appreciate the ease of having numbers on business card.
As a result of the evaluation process, we have better calculated the number of man hours needed to properly operate our program. We have created tools to assist the volunteers in being better effective in their designated positions. Policies have been created to increase awareness for safety purposes and strategies to increase the safety awareness. The challenge will be to incorporate these things into the current process and becoming consistent with the tracking of new information.
The program is fulfilling its purpose of meeting the immediate need; however, we look forward to a time of being able to be more than the hand out and are better positioned to be a hand up in the participant's personal transition and offering more avenues for change. Participants have indicated they appreciate the open relationship and expression of love we offer. They genuinely know and feel we care. This is a very important verification of our intention to be more than just another service provider.