A crash course in changing the world.
“Hope for the Homeless Evokation” by Agent Luke Sokolewicz
Dear Luke, I have read through your Hope for the Homeless Evokation and it is awesome! With over 1million homeless people in the US, the importance of dealing with homeless can not be overemphasized. I have shared below some of the issues that came to mind as I was reading your Evokation and also some resources I found that may be helpful to you. I hope you find these useful and wish you the very best as you embark on this very noble mission.
I'm starting a non-profit organization called "Hope for the Homeless." It would be designed to function much like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Homeless people would be paired up with regular people that would help them out with their daily struggles.
a. What is homelessness and why should I care?
The National Coalition for the Homeless publishes fact sheets on various aspects of homelessness. Each sheet summarizes facts and issues and contains a list of recommended reading for further research. -
b. What are the daily struggles of a homeless person? Paint me a picture of what it means to be homeless in Corktown, Detroit.
1. The Place. Where will you make a difference? Describe the institution, community, town or other geographic or virtual space in which you will focus your efforts.
My plan is to recruit as many mentors as possible in the Detroit area where I live and establish the first location. More specifically, I will focus on a small community in Detroit called Corktown. It’s a very poor area with a big homeless community. More specifically, I will start by finding mentors for the homeless individuals I have personally befriended at a soup kitchen called “Manna Meals.”
a. Where is Corktown, Detroit and why should anyone care about them? Can we get some facts and figures to illustrate the need for your Evokation e.g. What is the population of the town? How many homeless people are there?
- Googling “Corktown, Detroit” I found out that Corktown neighborhood is Detroit's oldest surviving neighborhood. Use such information to paint a picture of the town so that as one reads the Evokation, they can see, smell, and feel the town and feel compelled to respond positively to your Evokation.
- This article published on April 09, 2010 references a survey of homeless people in the Detroit area and gives the email address of writer. Perhaps you could email him for additional information?
- Also see for some statistics on homelessness in Detroit and images of homelessness in Detroit
2. The Challenge. What will you aim to change, and for whom? Highlight what is the need that you perceive and who will benefit from this change.
I have spent a lot of time interviewing and getting to know many homeless individuals. And I have learned that what they need more than anything else is hope and love. A mentorship program will allow homeless individuals to foster a new positive relationship. Each mentor would offer their guidance and help through difficult situations. And they would simply be there to be a friend.
I have personally seen the benefits with the first homeless man I have mentored. I helped him get off the streets and I’m now helping him get situatated in his apartment in Detroit. Plus, we’re becoming good friends.
a. This is excellent. Perhaps you can include this story as a side bar in your doc**ent with a picture of the homeless individual (if he consents) as well as a few words from him (if he is willing)?
b. Why mentoring? And, are you starting a mentorship program or a befriending program or both?
- Mentoring and befriending are very similar activities with some differences of emphasis. In general, they both involve the development of one to one relationships based upon trust, confidentiality and mutual involvement. The relationship is often voluntary with the goal of providing practical assistance and support. The main difference between mentoring and befriending is usually the emphasis placed on working towards goals. Mentoring tends to focus more on goal setting and operates within a clearly defined timeframe whilst befriending tends to develop more informal and supportive social relationships, often over a longer timeframe.
c. When defining the homeless, do you want to distinguish between single homeless, families, youth, veterans, newly homeless etc..
d. Now that you have recruited mentors what is the next step?
- Will you meet as mentors? If yes, why, where and how often?
- Is there a cost associated with this and if yes who will meet the costs?
- What does mentoring a homeless person entail?
- How long will mentorship last?
- What are the responsibilities of the mentors / mentees?
- Will you keep tabs of the mentoring relationships? If yes, who will do it and how will it be done?
- Some of the mentees may be are recovering addicts – do they pose any threat to their mentors?
- How will you verify that the mentors will not end up harming (intentionally or unintentionally) the homeless person? Can you implement mentor recruitment, interviewing and training strategy?
- What results do you want to achieve from the mentorship and how will you a****s if the mentorship is working?
- Do you know any other persons who would be interested to work with you as a team to set up this program i.e can you form a steering group to do this?
Perhaps you can use part of the US$1,000 to create doc**entation to support your Evokation. This information does not have to be printed; it may be a downloadable PDF and includes:
- An information pack for both befrienders/mentors and scheme users, including descriptions of their roles
- Application forms for potential befrienders/mentors
- Contract/agreement doc**ent between befriender and befriendee/mentor and mentee
- Contact record-sheet
- Evaluation and monitoring tools, eg feedback forms for all participants, outcomes forms, and satisfaction surveys.
There is quite a bit of information on mentoring the homeless online. I have listed some resources below:
e. What services (if any) are available to the homeless in Corktown and how do they work and how can you plug into / complement them? What other organisations assist the homeless in Corktown/Detroit? What social support systems are available and how can you plug into or receive assistance from these? Some places to start include:
- US Department of Housing and Urban Develoment website provides a list of Shelter and other Homeless Assistance
Other organisations that work with the homeless include:
- Bridge of Hope - http://www.bridgeofhopeinc.org/template/page.cfm?id=89
- De Paul International - http://www.depaulinternational.org/
- Homeless Action Network of Detroit - http://www.handetroit.org/
- This site has excellent resources including a video from a mentor showing “why you should mentor” which if permission is granted you could use to recruit mentors and a wonderful resource for mentors.
3. The Idea. Your solution – what is the action, product, service, project, change that you will initiate? Tell us how your idea will succeed where others have failed
Other homeless organizations are helpful, but they don’t give special attention and love that each homeless individual needs. The problem with homelessness is that there are many complicated factors that play into each individual case. The diversity of problems are endless: mental illness, physical disabilities, criminal record, family problems and general hopelessness. A mentorship program would enable homeless individuals to receive the special attention they desperately need and very much deserve.
As you have so rightly said, there are many factors contributing to the challenges of homelessness. A comprehensive solution is needed. The End Homelessness Organisation - http://www.endhomelessness.org/ offers comprehensive information and possible homelessness solutions for communities. It also has a wonderful guide “The Ten Essentials” which offers a clear, deliberate, and comprehensive strategy to end homelessness. You could borrow from “The Ten Essentials” to see how you can link the mentees to some of the “essentials” listed to ensure that your program is successful.
Another issue that one would consider is additional sources of financing. Where can you source for additional funding?
4. The Money. What would you do with your first US$1,000 given or invested in support of your vision?
My priority right now is to recruit as many mentors as possible. So I would use the first $1,000 to get the word out through flyers, and other forms of advertising that would target possible mentors in various areas in Detroit.
· I would suggest that you prepare a budget of how you plan to use the US$1000. Give examples and rationale for the planned activities. For instance, you plan to use various forms of advertising to recruit mentors. What forms of advertising? Why those forms? How much do these forms of advertising cost? And excellent advert at http://www.nowpublic.com/culture/dtes-mentoring-homeless-0
· Is there a way of doing this advertising without attracting a cost e.g getting in-kind donations for design and printing, ask organizations already present in this space to do a short story asking people to volunteer as mentors, ask the local paper to run a pro-bono advert, make a video and post it online (see http://cnettv.cnet.com/homeless-u/9742-1_53-50087590.html) etc so that the US$1,000 can be spent on other start-up activities. You could also consider reaching out to churches, mosques and synagogues for mentors - a model that has been successful in Denver. How about sending out a request for assistance from Evoke Agents who may be expert in this area to assist you develop / customize a handbook.
· It may be useful to consider where you would source for additional funds to support your Evokation