February 03, 2012

A General Meeting that Inspired Action

Brittany Lothe
By Brittany Lothe, Communications Team

As a recent transfer from the Chicago League, I am just getting up to speed about the Community Placements of the JLPA-MP. What’s great is that there are so many opportunities to learn about our partners – including at our quarterly General Membership Meetings.

Well, who would have known that at the most recent GMM on January 18th, I would have been inspired to action by one of our speakers. Karae Lisle, Executive Director of the Shelter Network -- the Peninsula's largest provider of housing and support for homeless families and individuals -- made time from her incredibly busy schedule overseeing six housing facilities with an $8 million budget, more than 80 full-time staff, and thousands of volunteers to talk to me and 200+ Junior Leaguers about homelessness in San Mateo county. 

Did you know that:
  • There is an estimated 6,737 homeless people in San Mateo County each year 
  • 12% of the county’s homeless are veterans 
  • The county has a commitment that “no child sleeps on the street” – if you have a child and you are homeless, a safe place will be identified for you 
  • This safe place may be part of the motel voucher program -- an emergency program for families and individuals on the waiting list to enter Shelter Network's shelter-based programs.

I didn’t. Nor did I realize that there was a Shelter Network facility less than 3 miles from my home in San Mateo. It seems natural that you would have such a facility in a big city like Chicago or Washington, DC or San Francisco, but poverty in a county like ours can be hidden. In order to address the issues, we need to face them straight on.

Karae and her team shared so much insight on the plight of the homeless in our community as well as many success stories. With more than 90% of families graduating from Shelter Network’s transitional shelters to permanent housing, they have a pretty amazing track record of helping those who need a hand up gain the skills they need to create a brighter future for themselves and their children. Check out some of the success stories for yourself here.

Each of us has something to offer to those who may need a boost at a time of need. For me, I learned about an organization supported by JLPA-MP volunteers in my community, was able to go to one of the facilities on Sunday for a tour and found a great organization to which I could donate our household items, clothing and toiletries. Some small steps but I’m looking for ways I can volunteer. Maybe I have a new frontrunner for the May placement fair. Time will tell!

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