AmeriCorps – The impact on those who have served
By Jason Phillips, LMSW, THN VISTA Program Manager
AmeriCorps is hard work. It is more than groups having fun doing community service projects together. It is more than the good vibe of serving others or working on an issue that you are passionate about. It is more than simply serving your community. It is challenging. It can be isolating when you are the only member at your organization. It can be frustrating when you learn and see how long it takes to change processes or old ways of doing things. It can be disheartening when you see firsthand the unnecessary suffering, oppression, and marginalization that populations experience because of our systems failing them. It is hard work.
However, it can also be, and often is, one of the most fulfilling and impactful experiences a person has. A year of service is often a kick-start to a career and a learning experience that can be much more enriching than anything found in a classroom.
Homelessness Awareness Day a Success!
March 3, 2017
Post by Jennifer Paulsen, Director of Development & Communications
On Tuesday, February 28, Texas Homeless Network hosted Homelessness Awareness Day (HAD). Forty-four homeless service providers visited 50 offices representing Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth, and communities outside of the metro areas. It was encouraging to see so many people show up excited to educate their legislators on homelessness.
This is only part of the group – the rest were getting information for visits and missed the photo!
The goal of the visits was to educate legislators, especially those sitting on key committees, on homelessness in Texas and discuss funding in jeopardy of reduction or elimination in General Appropriation Bills HB 1 and SB 1. The funds in question are the Homeless Housing Services Program (HHSP) that serves major metro areas, and the Balance of State Continuum of Care (BoS CoC) Technical Assistance program that serves non-metro areas.
Since 2012, homelessness has decreased by 32% and we expect the 2017 numbers will also show a decrease. However, this success is mostly due to important funding sources such as the Homeless Housing Services Program (HHSP) and the Balance of State Technical Assistance program grants. It’s vitally important that we keep the funding we have for programs ending homelessness so we can keep this momentum going.
2017 Homelessness Awareness Day - Sign up now!
“If you believe in great things, you may be able to make other people believe in them, too.” Oliver Wendell Holmes
Homelessness in Texas
On any given day, there are more than 23,000 people experiencing homelessness in Texas. Over 2,200 are families with 4,400 children under the age of 18 and an average age of seven. Nearly 200 children under the age of 18 are unaccompanied (not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian). There are 1,700 Veterans, many with families.
Homelessness Awareness Day
We will be presenting this information to our legislators next week during Homelessness Awareness Day at the Texas State Capitol. Since the Texas Legislature only meets every two years, we have to maximize this opportunity to get our message across about homelessness in Texas. The most effective way to do this is by visiting their offices and providing information on the state of homelessness.
Texas Homeless Network and its partners have a standing policy priority to support the expansion of affordable housing, increase opportunity for the most vulnerable to access health care services, and eliminate barriers to housing. However, the State must balance its budget, which means money has to come from somewhere, usually cuts to existing programs.
A Day Without Immigrants
Yesterday, many cities across the Nation had their Day Without Immigrants.
What started as a boycott where several restaurants decided to show their support to the cause, bloomed into a full protests that started at the Austin City Hall and ended at the Capitol. In Austin alone, more than 40 eateries kept their doors shut. Some of those venues took me by surprise as they did not serve any kind of Latin America inspired cuisine. Nonetheless, I was grateful for the support —and then it dawned on me.
Enchiladas and El Paso
February 10, 2017
Post by Jason Phillips, VISTA Program Manager
I’m fortunate to serve as the VISTA Program Manager with the Texas Homeless Network (THN). Our AmeriCorps VISTA projects work towards alleviating the consequences of poverty and ending homelessness across the state. Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to El Paso, TX to meet with our partners and provide some training. Being based in Austin, most of my job is over the phone and via the internet, so I am always thrilled when I get the chance to see in-person how communities throughout Texas are addressing the complex issues surrounding homelessness. For this trip I had three main goals: (1) to meet and train our new VISTA members and supervisors, (2) get a glimpse of the strengths and challenges of the community in addressing homelessness, and (3) to eat as much delicious food as I could.