Do you live here or work here?

(By: Angela Fonseca)

Angela Fonseca is the Coalition’s Communications Coordinator. As a new employee responsible to inform others about the Coalition and its resources, she has a fresh set of eyes regarding homelessness. We are excited to share her perspective.

 Do you work or live here?

Whether you’re a resident, staff member, or volunteer, there’s no shortage of friendly people at Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. Everyone says hello as you walk by and is greeted at least one time while on property.

Because we serve more than 600 people a day and we have nearly 100 employees, getting to know everyone’s name and face can be a challenge.

As I was leaving work the other day, one of our residents said a usual goodbye. We didn’t know each other, so when he stopped me for a minute to introduce himself, I didn’t think twice about it. He proceeded to ask, “Do you live here or do you work here?” I politely let him know that I am an employee. We chatted for a couple of minutes and I left.

As I was driving home I began to ponder his question. He couldn’t tell the difference between a resident and a staff member. Why? Because homelessness doesn’t have a face. It can happen to anyone, of any race, age, gender, or economic status.

Studies show that one in three Americans is one paycheck away from homelessness. According to there are about 318 million people in the United States. That means that nearly 105 million Americans are one paycheck away from homelessness (if they’re not already homeless).

Before working for the Coalition, I never would have pictured a child’s face when I heard the word homeless. But did you know that of the people we serve on a daily basis, 20 percent of them are children? Also, 20 percent of our residents are women.

There are many contributing factors to homelessness. For instance:

  • There are more single parents in this day and age than there ever have been. Can you imagine being one person trying to feed multiple mouths every day?
  • Or what if there was a death or an illness in the family? Would that cause financial stress on your household?
  • No one ever expected the government to shut down in late 2013 or for the housing-market to crash in 2008.

But these are real situations that can happen and have happened. These are circumstances beyond our control that could potentially leave someone empty-handed.

Some people believe that only a certain kind of person is homeless or becomes homeless but if these scenarios happened to you today, would you be faced with the crisis homelessness?

At the Coalition, we understand no one is immune to this possibility and we’re grateful for other people in the community who know that too.

If you’d like to make a difference in the lives of your neighbors in need, there are many ways you can help:

  • Knowing is half the battle. Sign up for our emails and newsletters.
  • Visit our website and become a volunteer.
  • Sign up to give a one-time gift or become a monthly donor.
  • Donate supplies or resources that our residents currently need.
  • You can also help with the click of a button: Share our social media sites and blog with your friends! (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)

Together, we can help transform lives.