Dignity matters. For people moving through homelessness, it can be the key to restoring health, housing, and stability. That's why dignity is at the heart of Project Outpour's mission. The Charlotte-based nonprofit provides shower access to men and women moving through homelessness, alleviating suffering and promoting holistic health and dignity.
"Being and feeling clean gives people a sense of dignity," says Laura Gorecki, Project Outpour's Chief Dignity Officer. "It gives the confidence to walk into public spaces, to seek assistance, to go on a job interview." Shower access also has practical physical and mental health benefits, relieving social alienation and preventing infections and other medical issues.
Like so many organizations, the past year has looked dramatically different for local nonprofit RunningWorks. This Charlotte-based organization has a keen focus on stopping the destructive cycle of homelessness through its values-led, mentorship-driven programming.
RunningWorks was established in 2012 and promotes volunteerism as a key component of rehabilitation as it promotes dignity and purpose for team members who are struggling through hard times. The goal is to foster self-improvement over the long term through the development of discipline, confidence, team-work and self-respect.
Bright Blessings lives up to its name, as a bright spot in the lives of local homeless and impoverished children by helping them celebrate their birthdays. Bright Blessings has grown since its founding by Amy and John Cervantes in 2005 to now include programs like Bless-a- Baby, which provides baskets of newborn items for new homeless and impoverished mothers and babies.
“COVID has certainly affected what we are able to do now, as a great deal of our birthday care packages were delivered via CMS schools which are not in person right now,” shared Tisha Henderson, Executive Director, Bright Blessings. “We are still sending supplies to shelters, which have been each handling their celebrations differently.”
As we all know, 2020 was a tough year - especially for our nonprofit community. Despite the hope that a new year brings, COVID-19 continues to make fundraising challenging. The pandemic’s impact on our economy has also resulted in a higher demand for nonprofit services, especially those related to housing, food, mental health, foster care, access to technology, education and domestic violence - forcing many nonprofits to reimagine the way they serve their constituents.
Additionally, 2020’s protests for racial equality as well as the recent availability of data demonstrating funding inequities for Black-led social change has put a spotlight on Black-led, Black-benefitting organizations. With a heightened awareness of the inequality in giving that exists, it is up to donors and funders to intentionally invest in Black-led and Black-benefitting nonprofits to promote racial equity.
Joining global observances of Black Philanthropy Month (BPM), a local group came together in a big way this year, resulting in Charlotte prevailing as the most engaged city, worldwide. New Generation of African American Philanthropists (NGAAP), a Charlotte-based philanthropic collective, teamed up with My Brother’s Keeper-CLT-MECK, the National PanHellenic Council-Charlotte Chapter, SHARE Charlotte and YMCA of Greater Charlotte to form a powerful collaborative, elevating the presence of Black-led nonprofits and generosity in Black communities.
Together, these five organizations launched #BPM2020CLT, a community-wide campaign throughout August 2020 to generate resources and support specifically for Black-led nonprofits during this year’s Black Philanthropy Month and beyond. Charlotte’s month-long campaign exceeded expectations in its first year.
Homelessness is not a new problem, but it does come with new challenges as a result of the pandemic.
The challenge of enforcing social distancing in shelters that are more crowded than ever.
The challenge of finding ways for volunteers to safely lend a hand without actually getting hands-on.
The challenge of facing a harsh reality that some neighbors who used to provide support for the homeless, are now in need of support of their own.
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