Chocolate Affair 2015: An Unprecedented Success

By all measures, the 2015 Health Care for the Homeless Chocolate Affair was a rousing success. The room was full of warmth and high spirits. The chocolate was fabulous. The generosity was awe-inspiring. The dance floor overflowed.

Genuine, compassionate, revolutionary and dedicated. This is what our friends in the evening’s video call our community; and these came across loud and clear at Chocolate.

Genuine. While we were together for just a few hours, we were bound by a deep commitment to making our community a safer, healthier, better place for all of our neighbors. As many have said since Saturday night: We were 900+ strong, yet the evening felt intimate.

777%20-%202015-02-07%20at%2018-51-07%20-%202015-02-07%20at%2018-51-07-X2[1]Compassionate. During the evening’s program, several Baltimore families posed a challenge to Chocolate guests to mark the 30th anniversary of Health Care for the Homeless: If, and only if, we raised $50,000 during the Fund-A-Need auction, they would match it with another $50,000.

But our guests didn’t stop at $50,000. They gave $113,000: more than twice the challenge amount. All told, Chocolate raised $450,000, which is more than any other year in the event’s history. What an amazing tribute to our shared commitment to ending homelessness and saving lives.

Revolutionary. As a result of your generosity, this year we will provide more dental care, more “home visits” and more tangible assistance to more people in a more holistic manner than ever before in our history. Our collective voice will be louder and stronger in the halls of government. And we will build on our partnerships with universities and research institutions to strengthen and demonstrate the impact of our work.

Dedicated. As Dr. Breakey said when he issued the 30th Anniversary Challenge to you: Chocolate is one night, but the work of Health Care for the Homeless never stops.  So now, continue your involvement in the work to end homelessness.

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What’s the Next Step?

Join 400+ community members at Homeless Persons’ Lobby Day in Annapolis on Thursday, February 26. Rally in support of legislation and budget decisions that address the needs of the most vulnerable and least advantaged of our neighbors. This day is so critical for Health Care for the Homeless that we close our offices and drive down to Annapolis together. Together with clients and advocates, we meet with legislators and attend key hearings. We show—in force of numbers and spirit—our commitment to making sure all of our neighbors have a place to call home. Join us for the full day or part of the day! Email Adam Schneider or Vanessa Borotz for the day’s schedule, bus details and briefing sheets. Absolutely no experience required.

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Thanks to Our 2015 Chocolate Affair Guests and Partners!

Many thanks to our 2015 Chocolate Affair guests, sponsors, vendors and volunteers for making this year’s event a rousing success. 

On Saturday, Feb. 7, nearly 1,000 Health Care for the Homeless supporters gathered at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront for a festive evening of fundraising, and a rare spread of chocolate-inspired delicacies created by Baltimore’s top chefs. Their collective generosity and presence on this one evening will go a long way to advancing our efforts to save lives and make sure all our neighbors have a place to call home.

We shared this video with our Chocolate Affair guests this year, offering a glimpse into the breadth, commitment and extraordinary spirit of the Health Care for the Homeless community—the people who make our work possible.

Funds raised through Chocolate Affair sponsorships and ticket purchases, and during our live Fund-A-Need auction, provide vital support for the work of the organization over the course of the year.

At Health Care for the Homeless, 170 staff members work daily to prevent and end homelessness. In 2014, these dedicated professionals provided 9,000 children and adults with medical and dental care, therapy and addictions counseling, transportation and housing support—25% more people than in 2013. Additionally, we are passionate advocates, advancing policies that support affordable housing, comprehensive health care and livable incomes for all.

With partners like you, Health Care for the Homeless will meet the needs of a growing number of neighbors without homes. Together, we will serve more people and serve them better.

 

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Baltimore’s ABC2 News Covers the Crisis of Child Homelessness

Baltimore’s ABC2 News recently visited Health Care for the Homeless as part of a feature on the rise of child homelessness, both in our community and nationwide.

Reporter Katrina Bush spent time with one Health Care for the Homeless client, Sharon Niles, who became homeless in 2011. Fortunately Niles and her children have recently overcome homelessness, but the frustration of experiencing homelessness remains all too vividly in her mind: “I was going through a period in my life that I would never want my enemy to go through because it was so rough for me because it was so bad to know that my kids cry at me and say ‘Mommy, we need to get out of this shelter, what are you doing to get us out of here?’ I said baby, I’m trying everything I can. I’m fighting everyday to get us a place. And my kids say ‘Mommy, you’re not fighting hard enough.'” With help from Health Care for the Homeless Ms. Niles’s children emerged from homelessness with good health, and she is optimistic that the family will stay housed.

Bush also spoke with the Director of HCH’s Pediatric and Adolescent Clinic, Lisa Stambolis, and Director of Community Relations Adam Schneider. Stambolis and Schneider both emphasized that homelessness will continue until we address its root cause: poverty. As Stambolis put it, “Preventing homelessness, means that we have people who can have good jobs and affordable housing. We’re never going to fix the problem unless those two things happen.”

Sadly, child homelessness in the United States is at a historic high. But working together, our community has the capability to bring an end to this epidemic.

Health Care for the Homeless thanks WMAR and Ms. Bush for bringing attention to the urgent problem of child homelessness.The full story and accompanying video feature are available here.

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Dec. 21: Join us for National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day

Every year, on the first night of winter and the longest night of the year, communities across the country gather to honor the lives of community members who experienced homelessness and passed away during the course of the last year. In Baltimore, National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day is hosted by members of Baltimore’s Stop Homelessness And Reduce Poverty (SHARP) Coalition, the Coalition for Homeless Children and Families, and the Baltimore Homeless Youth Initiative (BHYI), and takes place  Sunday, Dec. 21, at 5 p.m. at the Inner Harbor Amphitheater. Please join in this commemoration. Please also tune in to the Marc Steiner Show for a conversation on National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, Friday, Dec. 20,  10:30-11:30 a.m. 

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Tony Simmons: A “Superhero” Advocating to End Homelessness

Three years ago, Tony Simmons slept on the streets. Today he is one of Maryland’s leading advocates for ending homelessness.File0710

A few years ago Tony overcame drug addiction, but during the struggle he lost everything. He found himself on the street in October of 2011, and by the time Christmas arrived, isolation and hopelessness had driven him to despair.

Two things allowed Tony to overcome the worst crisis of his life:

  • Helping Others: Becoming an advocate

Tony found a reason to keep going each day by making life easier for those around him. Like you and me, he wanted to make sure other people got basic necessities, like shoes, blankets, or a hot meal. His desire to help and make a difference led him to become involved in advocacy efforts, with HCH and other organizations working to create change.

  • “HCH University”: Finding and building community

Just like you, Tony thrives on seeking knowledge and enrichment. He joined the HCH men’s group, art therapy group, and the writers’ group, which he affectionately calls his “HCH University” experience. He also became a leader on the HCH Consumer Relations Committee. Because you support “whole person” care, Tony, and others just like him, take charge of their health and reconnect with social support, employment, and housing.

“Tony is a real life superhero,” says Vanessa, HCH Community Organizer. In November, Tony was nominated by his peers and awarded the 2014 HCH Community Champion Award.

With the help of our strong partners in the community, HCH staff equipped Tony with the resources he needed to triumph in spite of homelessness.  And because our supporters opened the door for Tony, he’s taking action to bring about lasting change. Throughout the year, I’ve had the privilege of serving with Tony on the Governor’s Interagency Council on Homelessness. Whether testifying before the city council, the state legislature, or Congress, Tony is driven to make sure that no one is forgotten.

You can read more about Tony’s heroic advocacy work in the Atlantic Magazine and the Baltimore Sun. And you can listen to a discussion with Tony and other experts about converting Baltimore’s vacant rowhomes into affordable housing on the Marc Steiner Show.

You can make more heroic transformations possible today, with a gift of $50 or more at donate.hchmd.org.

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Thanks for Making the First-Ever HCH 5K a Success!

Thanks to everyone who helped make our first-ever HCH 5K a success! We look forward to building this new tradition for the HCH community. (You can help – click here to give us your feedback).

Despite a somewhat chilly morning, close to 200 runners, joggers, and walkers showed up for friendly competition with friends, family, and fellow HCH supporters.

We were fortunate to have a beautiful sunny day for our race. That means we have some excellent pictures of our racers against the backdrop of Druid Hill Park. If you took pictures, please pass them along via @hchomeless on Twitter, or on the HCH Facebook page.

Overall times are available online. Click here to see where you placed.

Congratulations to David Ringword & John Archibald for setting the 2nd and 4th fastest men’s 5k course records.  Congratulations to HCH Director of Communications Molly Rath & Claire Drigotas for setting the 4th & 5th fastest women’s 5k course records.

A special thank you to Travis Bishop of Bishop’s Events, for organizing the race. Travis will soon a gallery of race pictures on the Bishop’s Events Facebook page, available here.

We look forward to seeing you all again next year!
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2014 Annual Community Meeting: Celebrating Our Extended HCH Family

More than 120 Health Care for the Homeless partners, volunteers, donors, and staff members gathered at 421 Fallsway for the HCH 2014 Annual Community Meeting on Thursday, Nov. 6, to celebrate their collective efforts to prevent and end homelessness for vulnerable individuals and families. In reflecting on the contributions of this vast and growing community in the last year, HCH staff highlighted individual partners and volunteers for their standout work and spirit, naming them the agency’s 2014 Community Champions. Staff also honored fellow staff members who embody the core values that drive HCH employees and their work.

2014 Community Champions

2014 Community Champions

 

 

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Time to Take Action on Affordable Housing: Learning from the Section 8 Lottery

During nine days in October, 74,000 households in Baltimore signed up for a lottery to get on the Section 8 housing voucher waiting list. 25,000 of them will be selected.  Once on the waiting list, the odds are stacked against them; they’ll have a one in four chance of actually getting a voucher over the next six years. In 2020, the lottery for the waiting list opens back up once again.

Many of us—myself included—seized the opportunity to point out both the dystopian nature of this process and the failure of federal policies that drive disinvestment in affordable housing. This morning, the Baltimore Sun published our commentary on the housing lottery, pointing out that something as important as housing shouldn’t be left to chance.

Nevertheless, Health Care for the Homeless stepped up to ensure that everyone who needs housing  got in the lottery.

With two weeks’ notice HCH, along with others in Baltimore’s advocacy and service provider community, rallied to advertise the enrollment window and set up enrollment assistance at eight locations to complement the Housing Authority of Baltimore City’s sites. One of those was here at HCH. And with passion and commitment, our community kicked into gear. We recruited, trained, and encouraged 20 volunteers from all walks of life to help applicants with the web-based application.  We made sure that folks understood what they were—and were not—getting by throwing their hats in the ring.

HCH volunteers worked four-hour shifts during every hour the clinic was open, and signed up 393 households.

Well-executed news stories offer more detail about the lottery enrollment and how it unfolded at HCH and across the city: a WMAR story by Katrina Bush and a Baltimore Sun story in the Sun by Yvonne Wegner.

In true HCH form, our staff and volunteers made us proud. While the lottery enrollment comes with no guarantees, clients who signed up here at HCH left feeling cared for and informed about the process. I want to extend a heart-felt thank you to HCH volunteers and the staff who made this possible—with a very special shout-out to our Volunteer Coordinator Patrick Diamond, who organized and oversaw the HCH effort.

Only good things can flow from this kind of dedication, which makes me incredibly hopeful for our work to prevent and end homelessness moving forward. While such dedication plays out daily here at HCH, last month’s lottery enrollment window offered a very public reminder of what can happen when people come together on behalf of others.

Last month’s lottery enrollment also underscored the need for us to remain resolute in our efforts to reinvest in affordable housing for all who need it. It was a call to action—to keep access to affordable housing front and center on the public radar. In the days and weeks ahead, I hope each of us takes what we learned from the Section 8 lottery enrollment process last month and shares it with a handful of others. We do that, and in pretty short order we become a loud and forceful voice for what is right and fair.

With gratitude for your collective advocacy,

Kevin Lindamood, President & CEO

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The First Ever HCH 5K Race Is Just a Few Days Away!

The first-ever HCH 5K race is almost here. If you haven’t registered, there’s still time: you can sign up here. Your race packet will be available at DruidHCH_5k logo_finals Hill Park on race day.

Day-of registration take place at 8am, November 15; the race starts at 9.

After the race, stay around for the HCH 5k Community Picnic.

Runners and their families can join us near the finish line (Latrobe Pavilion) for food, music and games.

We’ll keep warm with picnic food for purchase – chili (beef, chicken, or veggie) with cornbread  for $2; hot dogs for just $1.

Games include Kan-Jam, Ladder Toss, and Cornhole.

Plus our “Fun Zone” has activities for the whole family including Red Light, Green Light (11am), Simon Says (11:20am), Egg Race (11:40am), 3-Legged Race (12pm), and Potato Sack Race (12:20pm).

We’ll keep you hoppin’ with tunes from DJ Dan Rabbitt!

Register today – proceeds will directly benefit homeless individuals and families in our community.

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The Baltimore Sun: Coverage of the Section 8 Waiting List

October 30 marks the final day in Baltimore’s Section 8 waiting list signup period. The waiting list was last  open over a decade ago, in 2003 – after today it closes until 2020, with no new applicants allowed regardless of changes in income or housing status. For individuals and families adding their names to the online list in the hope of receiving a public housing voucher in Baltimore City, much hangs in the balance.

In a front page article in the Baltimore Sun (available here), reporter Yvonne Wegner succinctly describes the grim numbers involved in the signup period: “In less than a week, more than 58,000 people have signed up for a chance to be randomly selected for a spot on the Housing Authority of Baltimore City’s Section 8 wait list. Only 25,000 will be chosen, and then only 6,000 to 9,000 are expected to receive one of the housing vouchers.”

Among other activists and experts working to raise awareness of both the waiting list and the housing crisis in our area, Wegner interviewed HCH Director of Community Relations Adam Schneider, who commented on the frustration many are feeling: “This whole thing is so dystopian,” Schneider said. “You can imagine Orwell writing about people in desperate need of some basic human need being prioritized and put on waiting lists, and that’s our reality now. How disheartening. We should be ashamed and we should act to change.”

With so little public housing available, and because so many will be unable to apply due to disability or lack of access to the application, the waiting list has been likened to a lottery. Many  see the sign up period as a moment for our community to come to terms with the severity of the lack of affordable housing, and to take action to reverse the trend. As HCH President and CEO Kevin Lindamood put it on the final day of the signup period, “If you believe one thing about homelessness today, believe this: reports of its demise are greatly – and irresponsibly – exaggerated.”

Wegner’s article is additionally useful as a primer for those interested in knowing more about homelessness and affordable housing in Baltimore. The full article is available here.

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