Tiny homes, big hopes on Make a Difference Monday

I’ve worked with the homeless in one way or another for about fifteen years, in three states. And one of the things I have learned from so many of them is how easy it is to go from employed and “normal” to homeless almost overnight. And how very, very difficult it is to recover from the fall.

Those of us who have never lacked a place to call home can’t imagine the hurdles. It’s everything from having no place to bathe or store clothing to having no address to put down on a job application. It’s no proof of residence to get a driver’s license…or even a library card. It’s a thousand things those of us who have thankfully never been homeless cannot imagine.

That’s why projects like Mobile Loaves and Fishes Community First! Village are so critical to breaking the cycle of homelessness and letting people take the next step back into a normal life. This 27-acre planned community in Austin includes:

  • An innovative mix of affordable housing options
  • Places for study, and fellowship
  • Memorial garden and columbarium
  • A community garden featuring fruit and nut bearing trees and vegetables
  • A chicken operation, bee hives producing fresh honey and an aquaponics fish operation
  • A workshop with tool bank and art gallery for micro-enterprise opportunities
  • A medical facility for physical and mental health screenings and support services including hospice and respite care
  • Walking trails
  • An outdoor theater
  • Walking distance to public transportation
  • WiFi

The focus on Community First Village is to lift the disabled and chronically homeless permanently out of that life of uncertainty, illness and danger and offer them a chance. So far, 99 people have been reached by the Village, but there are still so many people here in Austin who need that helping hand. The goal of this project is to help 225 people permanently leave the world of homelessness and move on with dignity.

Several organizations around Austin are working with Mobile Loaves and Fishes to build more micro-housing and provide needed services for the residents. Some are raising money to build a micro-home…and then planning to work on the actual construction. Others are raising funds or offering their time for the support services the Village needs like help with gardens, health care or providing finishing touches like linens and kitchen needs. Everyone can help in some way.

Everyone deserves a chance to have a space to call their own, whether it’s a grand house or a tiny microhome. After all, to paraphrase Horton (my favorite Dr. Seuss character!), “A home is a home, no matter how small.”  Please help Austin’s homeless find a place to call home.

Mobile Loaves & Fishes is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization helping Austin residents in need regardless of their religious affiliation. 

The Specs

903 South Capital of Texas Highway
Austin, Texas 78746
(512) 328-7299

http://mlf.org/pave-the-way-home/

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Two ways to fill hungry bellies, save lives this season

I usually reserve Mondays for posts about organizations and events helping the people and pets of Austin. But this time I’m making an exception because the causes are too good and the need is too great to wait even a few more days.

stuff the bus logo 2014

Stuff the Bus 

Capital Metro and Whole Foods are working to bring 30,000 much needed meals to hungry families in the Austin area, and they need your help to cram those buses full of tasty, healthy food.

Here’s the deal, in their own words because I couldn’t say it better if I tried:

This holiday season, Capital Metro, Whole Foods Market and the Capital Area Food Bank work in unison to help feed hungry Central Texans by hosting the 3rd Annual “Stuff the Bus” food drive Dec. 12-14!  Help us fill 2 entire Capital Metro buses with food to provide 30,000 meals for families in need. Donate non-perishable food items at any Central Texas Whole Foods Market store Dec. 12-14!

Three ways to participate: 

  • Bring your donations from home: Drop-off at any in-store collection bin OR take donations straight to the two buses parked at the Downtown and Domain stores!
  • Visit Whole Foods Market Dec. 12-14 and fill a brown bag with non-perishable items OR purchase pre-packed brown bags at the Downtown store.
  • Add a donation dollar amount to your final in-store purchase total at the register.

Bus Collection Sites: Open Dec. 12-14 | 10 am – 6 pm 

  • Whole Foods Market Downtown: 525 N Lamar Blvd.
  • Whole Foods Market Domain: 11920 Domain Drive

All proceed benefit the Capital Area Food Bank. 

Of course, all food needs to be in its orginal, sealed packaging. And only non-perishable foods can be accepted. It’s so simple to add a few cans and boxes of food to your next shopping trip or two, or buy one of the prepackaged food bags at Whole Foods and they’ll take care of getting it on tables that might otherwise be empty.
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And lest pet-friendly Austin neglects its beloved furry citizens, there is another awesome campaign running to keep dog and cat bowls filled.

Pound for Pound Food Drive

The Pound for Pound Food Drive

Tomlinson pet food has launched their annual double-the-donations food drive to benefit homeless pets and rescue groups throughout Austin. Here’s how it works, in their own words:

“Our annual food drive for local animal rescues is on. From Black Friday to Christmas Eve, all food donations made will be DOUBLED–pound for pound.
Here’s how you can help:

  1. Drop by any Tomlinson’s location.  (There are nine locations around Austin.)
  2. Upon checkout, donate a small, medium, or large bag of pet food.
  3. Check a box for the rescue to which you would like your donation to go.

After Dec. 24, we will collect your donations–doubled by our generous vendors–and distribute them to your choice of the following rescues:

Austin Boxer Rescue
Austin Dog Rescue
Austin Siamese Rescue
Animal Trustees 4Paws
Bastrop Animal Shelter
Blue Dog Rescue
Canyon Lake Animal Shelter
Central Texas SPCA
Diamond Dachshund Rescue
Greyhound Rescue Central TX
Love-A-Bull
Pawsitive Karma
Pug Rescue of Austin
San Antonio Dusty Paws
TX Great Pyrenees
TX Humane Heroes
Texas Sweeties
Thundering Paws
Wags, Hope, & Healing
Wee Rescue

Their goal? To provide 100,000 of pet food. That’s enough to feed 400 homeless dogs for all of 2015!

So now you see why I couldn’t wait until Monday to share this information!  We all need to help get the word out, too. Won’t you please share this post or the information in it with everyone you know in Austin? Hungry people and pets are counting on you to keep their tummies full.

Pass it on, please!

Making the Homeless Smile (Make a Difference Monday)

Today’s Make a Difference Monday isn’t local. And at the same time, it’s completely local. Let me explain….

The video below didn’t come from an Austin area group. But because this fair city is also home to so very many homeless people, the message…and the action…is perfect for here-at-home action. I’ve worked with the homeless for years, and know the value of a smile, a recognition that these people (whom my daughter once dubbed “Angels on the Street”) are no less human, no less deserving of a kind word, a smile, a ray of hope.

Watch the video. Check out the group behind it. Let it inspire you. At the bottom of this post are some links to help you get started on sharing smiles of your own.

Making blessing bags for the homeless (what to include and what NOT to include)

Homeless resources in Austin:

(My goal in the next few weeks is to create a single page, printable directory of local resources for the homeless residents of Austin. That way, we can all include those with the coins, food, or smiles we hand out. My husband deserves 100% of the credit for that idea…it is a great way to connect people with the services they might not know exist. Watch for that printable added here SOON!)

Gobble, Gobble, Give on Make a Difference Monday

gobble gobble give austinWelcome to the first day of our new “Make a Difference Monday” feature and our first guest post!

Today we’re featuring Gobble, Gobble, Give. 

Gobble, Gobble, Give began fourteen years ago in Los Angeles when one man, Barry Walker, saw a need and chose to do something. Although he had little to give, he chose to share what he had with those that had even less. The first year, he fed 28 people.

Each year, with the help of friends, the efforts were multiplied. Since then, the organization has spread to San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York City, Santa Monica, and here in Austin. Last year they fed 5,500 people. Check out this video of Gobble Gobble Give to see a piece of the impact.

This year, on Thanksgiving morning, at 10:00 am, people from around Austin will bring a Thanksgiving dish and gather at Go Greene Auto at 2617 South First.

Some will assemble the meals from all that has been brought, and others will be in charge of distribution. They will venture out into the community and share a hot meal with those that are less fortunate. Armed with toiletries, blankets, and a smile we will try to make someone’s morning a bit brighter. It is that simple.

For many of us, Thanksgiving morning can be a bit hectic or you might have out of town plans. The good news is that you can still help.

Financial donations are accepted through the Gobble Gobble Give main website and will help us pay for things like paper plates, buy turkeys and provide other necessities for our fellow Austin residents in need. Every dollar helps, so please give whatever you can.

Or if you’d like to donate blankets, toiletries, to-go containers, or food ahead of time, please contact us on the Facebook page, Gobble Gobble Give Austin or email Alissa Leenher.

Gobble, Gobble Give is a Gobble Gobble Give is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charity. Donations are 100% tax-deductible. 

Thank you Alissa!