Many people take for granted a nice warm bed at night. That is not the case for some Georgia residents. Approximately 13,000 Georgians, male and female, young and old, are experiencing homelessness right now. Many of these people spend their days wondering where they will lay their head at night.
According to the Point in Time Report, an annual count for homeless put together by the State Department of Community Affairs, 13,790 individuals in Georgia were considered homeless in 2015. This includes those living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, or a hotel paid for by a charitable organization. Also included are those living in cars, parks, abandoned buildings, or similar situations. Of Georgia’s nearly 14,000 homeless people, 226 of them live in Athens, Georgia.
The Athens Area Homeless Shelter is home to many of Athens’ homeless. On top of providing a home to 15 families between their two locations, the AAHS hopes to help its residents achieve financial and housing stability. Operations Coordinator, Olivia Amato, credits the Athens community for their support helping to keep the shelter up and running, providing a place to sleep and get in out of the cold. In a city like Athens, community involvement and support go a long way towards solving the homeless problem. The AAHS along with other Athens shelters like Project Safe, Bigger Vision, The Salvation Army and others, realize the need for community impact. Through donations and fundraising, shelters are able to add to their funds already received from the government. Receiving 50 percent government funding, the Athens Area Homeless Shelter relies heavily on the people of Athens-Clarke County to be involved with the shelter. Citizens can be involved in helping the shelter by helping with shelter upkeep, fundraising, donating shelter needs and volunteering their time. By doing any or all of these, one is ultimately helping the entire Athens community.
Amato said, “We want volunteers and anyone that becomes aware of what we do and who we work with to recognize that we want to celebrate our families as members of the community. There is no us and them. We are all in this together.”
Shelters note the importance of donations. People can donate their time by volunteering to do various services or chores, such as helping maintain a clean shelter environment, providing childcare, or preparing meals for the families. Another way to have an impact is through monetary donations or purchasing items off the Athens Area Homeless shelter’s Amazon wish list.
Along with donations, fundraising is a key factor for Athens shelters. Each year the AAHS puts on two large fundraising events, where community members can play active roles. On November 10th, the 14th annual Harvest for the Homeless, AAHS’s largest event, will take place. Percentage nights at local restaurants and raffle drawings lead up to the main cocktail event.
The smallest donation of time or money makes a large difference in the lives of the Athens homeless community. Donating time or money will help improve the lives of our entire community, ultimately reducing the homeless count.