Jahkil Jackson, 9, Gives “Blessing Bags” With Essentials to Homeless

9 Year-Old Philanthropist Jahkil Jackson (photo via usatoday.com)

CHICAGO — At 9 years old, Jahkil Jackson is helping his community take care of those in need.  It all started the day his aunt took him to feed the homeless. Jackson was saddened when he saw how the homeless lived.  “They didn’t have items to start or end their day,” say Jackson.

So he and his mother took action, creating the non-profit, iAMNaeem.

Jackson puts together “Blessing Bags” which he hands out to the homeless community.  The bags are filled with toothbrushes, socks, soap, deodorant — everyday items a person needs.

He disburses the bags from the back of his godfather’s pickup truck. He’s on the ground, meeting the homeless community face-to-face while handing out bags. Jackson’s mother says he always takes charge during these trips, proving to be a strong leader at such a young age.

“In a perfect world, I would buy every homeless person a house,” Jackson says. “But since I can’t do that, I will try to help as much as I can.”

Since starting his non-profit, he’s distributed almost 2,000 Blessing Bags. Jackson’s goal for the end of 2017 is to distribute 5,000 bags.

To read more: Boy saw how homeless lived and did something about it

Chris Bentley and Carlos Miller Start LiveFRESH Mobile Shower Facility for Homeless in FL

Carlos Miller and Chris Bentley, founders of Live FRESH Palm Beach County. (photo via palmbeachpost.com)

Carlos Miller and Chris Bentley, founders of Live FRESH Palm Beach County. (photo via palmbeachpost.com)

article by Angela Bronner Helm via theroot.com

Chris Bentley and Carlos Miller, two African-American men who have been friends since middle school, have started an innovative way to help the homeless of Palm Beach County, Fla. The two started a nonprofit—Live FRESH (Feeling Revitalized Encourages Sustainable Happiness)—and have launched a mobile shower facility, an air conditioned trailer equipped with six private shower/changing area rooms, to assist the area’s transient population.

The Palm Beach Post reports that the two chose showers specifically: “For us, that’s where dignity and self-respect starts … with the ability to stay clean and be presentable,” says Bentley. “Cleanliness is a fundamental need. We actually see it as basic human right and because the homeless population can be hard to reach, we knew we would have to come to them and make ourselves available in areas they could easily reach.”

Miller writes on the website: “To see a human being, living in the United States of all countries, walk inside a store with apprehension over being shunned or offensive to the atmosphere due to their odor or disheveled state grabbed at the core of my heart.”About 250 people have participated since the program began March 31, reports the Post.

Each participant gets a packet with personal hygiene essentials including deodorant, towels, soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss. The organization was able to launch its fund with a $100,000 grant from Impact the Palm Beaches and smaller donations from other organizations.

To read full article and see video, go to: Longtime Friends Start Mobile Shower Facility for the Homeless in Fla.

Anonymous Donor Pays Homeless Chicago Family’s Rent For a Year For Christmas

For those who may have wondered if there’s any good left in the world, just turn to Chicago woman LaToya Ellis as proof there are still people with kind hearts.

The mother of three fell on hard times when she was laid off from her managerial position at the fast-food sandwich chain Jimmy Johnsand later evicted from her apartment. Ellis stayed with friends and family for a while, but eventually moved into a homeless shelter.

Ellis’ story was then covered by local TV Station ABC 7, which quickly went viral with many wondering how they could lend a helping hand. Ellis, who is also an advocate for the homeless, was overwhelmed by the support, but quickly received the best Christmas present when a donor called Ellis and said he’d cover a year’s worth of rent in the neighborhood of her choice.

“It’s indescribable. I didn’t know how to process it,” Ellis said, recalling her reaction when she received the phone call. “No one has ever done anything like that for me.”

Her new home now allows for her children to have their own rooms, and since the gracious gift from the anonymous donor, good samaritans have also offered basic needs such as household supplies, gifts for the children and job services.

Ellis plans to use her year wisely by saving money to open a catering business and eventually finish up her bachelor’s degree. She also intends to spread the goodwill.

“Most of all, I just want to pay it forward,” she said. “I’m going to continue advocating, I’m going to continue volunteering — it’s not just about my family.”

article by Shenequa Golding via vibe.com

University of North Carolina Study Shows Housing The Homeless Saves Lives – And is Actually Cheaper Than Doing Nothing

n-SKID-ROW-LOS-ANGELES-HOMELESS-large570It’s cheaper to give homeless men and women a permanent place to live than to leave them on the streets.

That’s according to a study of an apartment complex for formerly homeless people in Charlotte, N.C., that found drastic savings on health care costs and incarceration.

Moore Place houses 85 chronically homeless adults, and was the subject of a study by the University of North Carolina Charlotte released on Monday. The study found that, in its first year, Moore Place tenants saved $1.8 million in health care costs, with 447 fewer emergency room visits (a 78 percent reduction) and 372 fewer days in the hospital (a 79 percent reduction).

The tenants also spent 84 percent fewer days in jail, with a 78 percent drop in arrests. The reduction is largely due to a decrease in crimes related to homelessness, such as trespassing, loitering, public urination, begging and public consumption of alcohol, according to Caroline Chambre, director the Urban Ministry Center’s HousingWorks, the main force behind Moore Place.

One tenant, Carl Caldwell, 62, said he used to go to the emergency room five to seven times a week, late at night, so he could spend the night there. “You wouldn’t believe my hospital bills,” Caldwell, who hasn’t had health insurance for years, told The Huffington Post. Caldwell was a teacher for 30 years and became homeless five years ago, when he lost his job and his roommate moved out.

While living on the street, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The disease was particularly challenging for Caldwell, who said he spent his days “trying not to get robbed or killed” and trying to find bathrooms and shelter from freezing weather. Since he moved into Moore Place when it opened in March 2012, Caldwell has gained a regular doctor and has undergone radiation. Now his cancer is in remission. Without having to worry about where he will sleep, he can take his medicine regularly and keep it in his mini fridge.

“Moore Place saved my life,” Caldwell said. “When you’re homeless, you are dependent on everybody. Now I am independent and can give back.” Caldwell said he regularly helps feed homeless people now and has reconnected with family members he hadn’t spoken to in years.

Chambre said she expects Moore Place tenants’ mental and physical health to continue to improve with consistent access to health care. “The idea of having a primary care doctor was just a fantasy when they were living on the street,” said Chambre. “Now they all have a regular doctor.”

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Couple Who Met in a Homeless Shelter Pay it Forward, Help Others Transform Lives

Deven and Ressurrection on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. (Photo courtesy of Glory Soldiers Global)

Deven and Ressurrection Graves on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. (Photo courtesy of Glory Soldiers Global)

Homeless for three years, Ressurrection Graves vividly remembers the week she slept in her car, waiting for beds to become available at a Washington, D.C., homeless shelter. It was the week of Aug. 23, 2011, when a 5.8 earthquake shook the Virginia area and Hurricane Irene battered the East Coast with wind and rain.  “I prayed and was asking God how this could end,” she told TODAY.com. “It was like, ‘Make it stop!’”

When beds finally became available at the shelter, Ressurrection checked in. And there she met Deven Graves, the “kind” man with whom she would leave homelessness behind and start an organization that is helping people caught in a cycle of poverty, including more than 75 homeless individuals so far this year.

“I had this guy staring at me,” Ressurrection recalled of her first encounter with Deven. “It felt like he was looking into my soul. It’s certainly not what you’re expecting in the environment I was in.”

In an interview with TODAY’s Lester Holt on Saturday, Graves added to the story and said she “certainly did not go to a shelter to look for a man,” but the pair had an instant connection that she called “magical.”  Deven, a veteran, had a difficult time making the transition from military to civilian life. That and the death of a family member left him feeling “a little bit lost,” Ressurrection said. He was living at the shelter while working construction jobs and looking for something more permanent.

Deven wooed her over a game of chess, and asked if she would edit his resume. As an entrepreneurial-minded mother who owned her own massage business before she fell on hard times, Ressurrection was impressed. But she didn’t want to get serious until they were out of the shelter.  It didn’t take long. After a month, Ressurrection and Deven saved up enough money from their jobs to move out. Their first date was “romantic and affordable,” a picnic at a park near the water.

Five months later, Deven proposed. They decided to hold a wedding ceremony on a day of special significance: the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

So on Aug. 28, 2013, two years to the date after Ressurrection and Deven played their first game of chess, the couple exchanged vows on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial as they heard President Obama‘s voice echoing across the water during his speech at the Lincoln Memorial.

“I felt nothing but peace and joy,” Deven said. “It was a blessing.”

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