I am often reminded of something the CEO of City Gospel Mission said to me years ago: “We get plenty of volunteers on Thanksgiving and Christmas. What we need are volunteers the other 363 days of the year.”
Indeed, that is the case at City Gospel, where I volunteered for over a year before relocating to Los Angeles. City Gospel Mission has helped serve the homeless and break the cycle of poverty in Cincinnati since 1924. The mission collaborates with more than 350 local churches and 2,500 volunteers helping over 6,800 and 3,500 youth each year.
On any given day at City Gospel, teams of volunteers fill several critical roles in
- Food preparation and service
- Bible studies
- Prayer support
- Job assistance
- Life-skill classes
The need is not seasonal or only on holidays. It is every day, as homeless people throughout the city file through their doors.
This need is apparent too at the Los Angeles Mission, where I work with students on resume-building, interview skills, and job preparation. The stream of people needing assistance to regain their confidence and livelihoods flows through the Mission year-round, every day of the week.
Homelessness transcends seasons
This is because homelessness can happen to almost anyone, any time, and it is an epidemic that continues to plague our nation.
- In 2016, 549,928 people were homeless on any given night in the United States.
- 20% to 25% of homeless people in America suffer from some form of severe mental illness.
- Los Angeles has the most chronically homeless residents in the country.
- The homeless population in Los Angeles County as soared 23% over the last year, reaching 58,000 homeless people.
You can make a difference
With numbers so high, it can be daunting to think that one person’s contribution can help, but it can. Being aware of homelessness, and understanding the overwhelming and pervasive struggle of not having a home to find comfort in, can be the first step. From there, there are many things you can do, throughout the 365 days, to change these figures and change the life of someone in need.
Reach out. Contact a local homeless shelter or relief organization and see what resources they’re lacking. See how you can contribute supplies or resources.
Donate, donate, donate. Some may think writing a check is not personal enough, but nothing could be further from the truth. Any way you can give is important and appreciated.
Show up. Just by being a human being, with skills, talents, and time, you have something to offer. See where help is need, and whether there are opportunities to volunteer onsite.
Understanding the need surrounding homelessness and knowing how powerful people can be when we all work together keeps me motivated at Los Angeles Mission. I am inspired every time a student finds a new life, a new confidence, and a new belief going forward.
It happens every day. Not just Thanksgiving and Christmas. Join me.
Steve Pomeroy is the founder of Big Change Advisors, a Los Angeles M&A advisory firm of business advisors and capital sourcing advisors for startups and middle-market companies. Since 1992, Big Change leaders have completed over 38 transactions including M&A, Capital Sourcing, and Public Offerings representing over $800 million in total transaction value. Big Change Advisors donates a percentage of all fees to help serve the homeless through the Los Angeles Mission. To request a free consultant, contact us.