By Mia Ellis
With the cold weather in full force, it’s easy for people to unintentionally take their necessities for granted without realizing everyone is not as privileged. For those experiencing homelessness, winter is a brutal challenge. The frigid temperatures make life on the street even more dangerous than usual, and the societal focus on togetherness and holiday cheer can create a stronger feeling of loneliness.
According to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, “homelessness is characterized by extreme poverty coupled with a lack of stable housing.” Every year, an estimated three million people sleep in shelters, transitional housing, or places not meant for human habitation (park benches, under bridges, in parking lots, etc.) Some have experienced a sudden change in their lives: loss of employment, severe financial challenges, natural disaster, or house fire. For others, domestic violence, chronic substance abuse disorders/addiction, mental health issues, or other medical ailments have wrecked their lives.
There are four types of homelessness: chronic, episodic, transitional, and hidden. Chronic homelessness describes those who have been continuously homeless for a year or more. These individuals are usually older, have complex and long-term health issues, and often live in locations that are not fit for human habitation.
Episodic homelessness describes individuals who are currently homeless and have experienced at least three separate periods of homelessness in the past year. These individuals are often younger, and suffer from some type of disabling condition, such as substance abuse disorder, mental illness, and/or medical problems.
The most common type of homelessness is called transitional. These (typically) younger individuals normally enter a shelter or short-term housing system for only one stay due to a devastating event or sudden
life change, such as the sudden death of a parent, unexpected loss of employment, disaster, or domestic violence.
Hidden homelessness describes those who have no present or future fixed housing accommodations, and who are staying temporarily with others. This population is “hidden” because they usually do not access homeless facilities despite needing them, and they are not calculated in national and local statistics.
How can you help in your community?
- Learn about the different paths that lead to homelessness. No matter what brings people to homelessness, they all have value and deserve help.
- Positively acknowledge a homeless person you encounter. A simple “hello” or wave could make a difference. Many people experiencing homelessness say that the loss of dignity that accompanies their situation is more difficult than the actual loss of physical things.
- Research local homeless shelters to see if there are items you could purchase that would go directly to those staying there.
- Contact your church office to see if volunteers are needed to cook and deliver meals, offer transportation to appointments, or provide gently used clothing.
- Purchase a meal and drink, gift card, or bus ticket.
- Provide them with local job and/or shelter information.
- Keep clothing items and hygiene products in a bag that could be easily handed out when needed.
If you are one of the lucky ones, the world of a homeless person is completely foreign from your own world, but it does not mean you cannot help. Please consider contacting your local health department, church, or hospital to see how you can start making a difference
In Other News
Mt. Zion Church, located in Bel Air, MD, recently hosted a homeless shelter. The program initially started out with 14 guests but is now at 20 guests. Volunteers from the church and community worked hard to create a family environment filled with homemade food, games, prayer, and kindness. Guests were encouraged to eat, talk, and pray with volunteers, and were provided with clothing and hygiene products, a bed, and a tote for their belongings.
“We start the week by saying, and during the week emphasizing, that God loves them, and we do also,”
said Mike West, Local Missions Coordinator at Mt. Zion. “No judgements. Just love and compassion. They are no different in His eyes than we are. We try and gather information about needs and meet their needs by donations or prayer.”
The next location for this program will be held at St. Matthews Church (1200 East Churchville Road, Bel Air, MD 21014) beginning on January 13. Please call 410-838-3178 for more details on how you can help.
If you are interested in volunteering or donating to a homeless program in your area, please contact your local church office or health department for more details.
In Memory Of
February 4, 1980 – August 1, 2016
Beckett was a son, brother, nephew, uncle, cousin, and friend. As a child, he loved playing baseball and loved to go fishing. He never outgrew his love for nature, and as he got older, he enjoyed hiking, traveling, and skiing. When he was in his early twenties, he had wisdom teeth removed and he was put on narcotics to control the pain. They worked. But while his pain was controlled, he lost control of other aspects of his life. He was soon addicted. He hid it well at first, but we knew something was off when he stopped taking classes in college. He eventually admitted that he had a problem so we got him help. He was in about 5 different rehabs in his life, and for a while we thought they would work. His last stay in rehab seemed to be successful because he remained drug-free for about 9 months. He got a new job, enrolled back in college, and looked healthy. When he was in a car accident, he was put on morphine at the hospital and a few weeks later, his addiction took hold of him again. We tried to get him into treatment but he refused. He passed away in his room at our house. We are broken without him. We still cannot go into his room without crying and looking at his photos is just too painful. We do not wish his addiction or our loss on anyone. We grieve for all of you who have lost a loved one to this monster. Sincerely, Beckett’s aunt Denise (from Tulsa, Oklahoma)
RAA Program Information
2020 Recovery Run / Memory Walk: A 5K fundraiser to benefit Rage’s various programs, and to support those in recovery as well as remember those lost to addiction.
Daughter’s House: A local sober living house designed to assist women who are transitioning from substance abuse treatment. Click here to visit the Facebook page.
HALO (How to Live Without Our Addicted Loved One): An online grief support group. Click here to ask to join the private Facebook page.
RAA ABC (After Baby Care): A program offered by Rage Against Addiction that provides newborn-care items to mothers in recovery. Please send monetary donations to:
Rage Against Addiction (Rage ABC)
PO Box 1
Forest Hill, MD 21050
Rage Club: A program offered by Rage Against Addiction for children who are touched by substance abuse disorder. Click here to register.
Ashley Addiction Treatment: An inpatient treatment center that personalizes clinical programs based on individual need. Located in Havre De Grace, MD. To learn more, please call 800-799-4673 or visit here.
Celebrate Recovery: a local support group for those with addictive behaviors. (The group is held at Mt. Zion Church at 5:45pm on Thursdays and at Mountain Christian Church at 6pm on Fridays.) Please click the links for more details.
GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing): A local support group for those who have lost someone to addiction. (The group meets at 7pm on the 2nd Wednesday of every month at Mt. Zion Church in Bel Air, MD.) Click here to ask to join the private national Facebook group. To register for the monthly Harford County, MD chapter support group, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Helping Up Mission: A treatment center and shelter for those with mental illness, substance abuse disorder, and/or homelessness. Located in Baltimore City, MD. To learn more, please call 410-675-7500, email email@example.com or visit here.
Loving an Addict: A local support group for family and friends of those in active addiction. (The group meets every Saturday at 7pm at Mt. Zion Church in Bel Air, MD) To learn more, please call 410-836-7444.
Welcome One Emergency Shelter: A full-time and year-round homeless shelter that assists individuals with obtaining long-term housing. Located in Belcamp, MD. To learn more, please call 410-272-2229, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit here.
Calendar of Events
January 8, 2020:
GRASP support group meeting (7:00 pm)
Mt. Zion Church
1643 Churchville Road
Bel Air, MD 21015
January 11, 2020:
Ashley Addiction Treatment Child and Youth Program (9:00 am to 3:00 pm)
Ashley Addiction Main Campus
800 Tydings Lane
Havre De Grace, MD 21078
April 4, 2020:
Rage Against Addiction Memory Walk / Recovery Run (8:00 am)
Cedar Lane Regional Park
1100 Cedar Lane
Bel Air, MD 21015
Rage Against Addiction Team
Wendy Beck: Founder and Executive Director
Tara Kuzma: Chairman of the Board of Directors
Amanda Buddenbohn: Vice President
Rachel Bongiorno: Recovery Coach and Daughter’s House Program Director
Tara Slaughter: Family and Recovery Resources and Support
Carlie Pennington: Peer Support
Rage Against Addiction
P.O. Box 1
Forest Hill, MD 21050 Wendy@rageagainstaddiction.com
We serve locally but think globally. For counseling, or for addiction, substance abuse disorder, or mental illness treatment, please contact your area’s health department, county government, hospital, or law enforcement agency.