Posts Tagged ‘Food Pantries’

Flower in ConcreteLately there have been so many reports of bad things happening in the world—from terrorist attacks, to riots, to shootings. But if we look hard enough finding good that’s being done is like finding a flower blooming in concrete.

Here are a couple of flowers I discovered lately:

Omaha’s street paper

M,A,Yah saw the homeless in a different light, because at one time he too, was homeless. So he has great compassion for those struggling to survive on the streets. He dreamed one day that he would own a street paper and dedicate it to getting the homeless jobs and hopefully, off the streets. Omaha’s Heartland News street paper has been finding its way into homes and businesses since 2011.

But M,A,Yah’s dream literally went up in smoke February 5, 2013, when someone had set fire to his newspaper which was located at 62nd and Ames Avenue at the time. Fortunately no one was hurt. However, M,A,Yah had been residing in the upstairs of the building, and due to the fire he found himself homeless once again. But that did not deter him from going after his dream.

Although someone tried to crush it, they didn’t succeed. All he could think about from the time of the fire was getting his paper back up and running again. He said he only lost a building, not his dream. Within 4 months of the fire, M,A,Yah found refuge just 20 blocks east of where his original building was. He moved his newspaper into a building that is shared with a barber at 4001 Ames Avenue and now his paper is back and doing better than ever!

The vendors are told to tell people the suggested donation price is $1.00 per paper, but once a person finds out that the venders are homeless, they usually get generous amounts of donations—All of which they get to keep for themselves. This program is designed to help the homeless “Charge Straight out of Poverty,” as the motto goes, by allowing the vendors to keep 75¢ from each paper they collect a dollar donation for. Then they pay The Heartland News .25¢ for each paper they distribute. The money they give to The Heartland News goes back into the fund to get the next issues printed.

M,A,Yah also has people that set up tables in front of stores, such as Walmart, No Frills and Bakers who do nothing but collect donations for the paper itself. However, because vendors do not set up at the same locations as the Salvation Army bell ringers, the paper doesn’t do so well in donations this time of year.

The Heartland News is not just another venue for panhandlers. Some of the venders are able to find a place to live, while selling the Heartland News. Others meet people that might open up job possibilities for them. The North American Street Paper Association says in just 2 months a vendor could make enough money to put a permanent roof over their head.

Table Grace Café

Table Grace Café is a place that offers food for a free-will offering. They don’t suggest a certain amount of money as a donation. You just give what you feel like giving and nobody knows how much you donated because it all goes into a wooden box at the counter.

The pizza-salad-soup combo is standard fare at Table Grace Café. Owner and professional chef Matt Weber is a trained chef who studied at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City. Pizza and soup is handmade every day at Table Grace Café and the varieties they offer depend upon what they have available.

They have a relationship with Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Wohlner’s Grocery and during the growing seasons they get fresh produce donated by local farms. These donations help keep costs low, and helps Matt and his crew continue to offer nutritious food to folks who might otherwise go hungry.

It’s important to know that while Table Grace Café certainly helps people who might not otherwise be able to afford this type of meal, this place is for everyone. Everyone is welcome, and everyone is free to pay whatever they want to pay for the food. Whether you drop a couple of quarters into the donation box or a hundred dollar bill, you’re going to receive the same friendly service and wholesome meal as everyone else.

The purpose of Table Grace Café is to promote a healthy community by offering great food prepared and served in a graceful manner to anyone who walks through the door. They believe that everyone; regardless of economic status, deserves the chance to eat wonderful food while being treated with respect and dignity.

Paying it forward
Table Grace Café also has an Internship Program that allows individuals to complete a 2 week training course in restaurant work. After they complete their training they are given job placement assistance by Matt’s staff and volunteers.

Catering
Table Grace Café also caters dinners for 10-30 people. Just give them a call and they’ll be happy to work out all the details for your event. Whatever your event; Table Grace Café will work with you to accommodate your catering needs. And best of all, by choosing Table Grace Café, you’ll be helping their ministry in downtown Omaha of ‘Nourishing Hungry Bodies and Souls’.

See more at: http://www.tablegracecafe.com/our-mission.html#sthash.rEeflMLt.dpuf

 

Remember that Jesus said, “Whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do for me.” (Matthew 25:40)

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I recently read an article that immediately filled me anger. The article, in the Spokesman-Review in Washington State, reported that about 30 homeless people have died during 2012 and at least four were 17 and two others were between 18 and 20!

The National Runaway Switchboard estimates that on any given night there are approximately 1.3 million homeless youth living unsupervised on the streets, in abandoned buildings, with friends or with strangers.  Homeless youth are at a higher risk for physical abuse, sexual exploitation, mental health disabilities, substance abuse, and death.  It is estimated that 5,000 unaccompanied youth die each year as a result of assault, illness, or suicide!

The death of any young person is tragic. Kevin M. Ryan wrote in his blog that he had attended the funeral of a young man he’s known most of his life, who died unexpectedly in his sleep at the age of 21 a few days after Christmas.  He relates how, at the funeral, the church was packed with hundreds of family and friends.

While reading these sad and tragic stories I couldn’t help but think of what might have happened; how these precious lives could have been saved and changed for the better, if only someone who attended one of these funerals would have stepped up and helped them. Maybe they too, would be alive today and be following their dreams.

Over the past five years my wife and I have opened our home to a dozen men, women and children who were in need of a home. I’m happy to report that today they all have homes of their own and doing well.

Reading articles like this should cause a righteous rage to well up inside of every Christian’s heart and spur them to action.  I pray that more people will step up and help more of these vulnerable people instead of attending their funerals.

“I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.” (Matthew 25:45)

 

NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams will be airing an interview with Ann Curry Thursday, Nov. 29th that deals with a family of five from Johnson City, Tenn., that despite their homelessness, they are still a working family. There is now a growing number of working families who have become homeless in the wake of the current economic crisis.

Too many people are still holding onto the stereotyped homeless populations; that homeless people are either lazy or drug addicts, alcoholics, or have some type of mental problem. Although these make up a small percentage of the homeless community, there are literally hundreds of thousands of people, many of them hard working families, who are homeless as well.

The number of people in homeless families living in suburban and rural areas rose nearly 60 percent during the Great Recession, according to figures from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). More than one million school-aged children are now homeless, according to the Department of Education.  And it’s more likely today that your own children are sharing a classroom with a few homeless children. (And possibly joining other classmates in making fun of them)

Many of these employed homeless have worked hard to pursue the American dream. They have college degrees. They worked to build their savings just like they were taught. But when you combine student loan debt with medical bills (Even with the health insurance from work) , a family’s debt can very easily grow into a mountain.

Many families live paycheck to paycheck and still do not have enough to cover their monthly expenses.  They become behind on their rent, and even if they downsize to a smaller apartment in a bad neighborhood they still might not be able to afford rent.

Advocates say there are not enough shelters for the nation’s new wave of homeless families and many shelters separate men, women and children because of security reasons.

Shaun Donovan, the secretary of HUD, said that shelters must begin to use their funding differently to accommodate the rise in homeless families. But at the same time he acknowledged that family-friendly shelters are under-funded.

How many of us are one bad injury or a paycheck away from being homeless?

If you end up in the hospital, you are not earning any money. And if you work and are fortunate enough to have health insurance, you will still most likely have an out of pocket deductible and co-pays. A minimum wage job only pays $290 a week. (Hardly enough to pay for a decent apartment and keep up with medical bills, let alone purchase a house)

I remember when I was homeless for a time and lived in my van because my job at the time didn’t pay enough for me to afford rent. I used a relative’s shower every morning before I went to work. The large church that I was involved with at the time generously offered to let me sleep in a storage closet during the winter. (Do you sense the sarcasm?)

Let’s face it-we live in a very greedy world that refuses to be our brother’s keeper. When I think about all of the wealth available to many of the mega churches in this country that could easily meet the needs of the less fortunate in their communities, I feel like I could walk through those churches and turn over their pews, whipping anyone who tried to stop me.

Unfortunately, I don’t think even such a drastic act would accomplish much more than getting me a room without a view in the local jail.

Even though it’s so easy to blame “the other guy” for the ills of the world, the solution should be directed at myself- What can I do to help? It may not seem like a lot, but I can help the homeless community by donating my time and finances to organizations that minister to the needs of the homeless community. And I can minister one on one to those who are homeless when God gives me the opportunity.

Isn’t that what being a godly person is all about anyway?

Ways to help:

http://www.endhomelessness.org/

http://www.usich.gov/

http://www.familyhomelessness.org/

By Erin Grace

WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER

A federal program that helps fund emergency shelters and food pantries has been slashed, resulting in major cuts to states like Nebraska and Iowa that have relatively low unemployment rates. The National Emergency Food & Shelter Board Program took a 40 percent hit nationally. That led to cuts in local grants. News of the cuts, which hit this week, will force Omaha-area homeless shelters and agencies that serve the poor to make up the difference.

“Fundraising’s not going gangbusters this time of the year,” said Mike Saklar, who runs Omaha’s largest shelter, the Siena-Francis House at 1702 Nicholas St. “With the economy and uncertainty, it’s going to be hard to replace money like that.” Saklar’s shelter stands to lose about $40,000 from Douglas County’s loss of direct funds, but could see some of that trickle back through the overall state pool for the program, which is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

For the first time in anyone’s recollection, Douglas County is getting zero direct FEMA homeless dollars, down from $205,000 last year. The county will be able to compete for some dollars from the state pool. Nebraska is slated to get about $250,000, with about $10,000 earmarked for Scotts Bluff County. That’s the lowest amount Nebraska has received since 1996 and less than half of what it got last year. Funds can be used for food, shelter, rent or mortgage payments, utility bills and repairs to shelters.

The same scenario is playing out in Iowa, where its largest county, Polk, home to Des Moines, got zero direct FEMA homeless dollars and had to compete with the rest of the state for its state pool. David Dischler, who runs the Des Moines-based Iowa Institute for Community Alliances and sits on the state set-aside committee, said two-thirds of Iowa’s 99 counties won’t get FEMA funding and that Des Moines will take a 70 percent hit. He said that will force his agency, which acts as the bank in doling out the FEMA dollars, to “throw some grantees off the bus.”

Dischler has worked with this federal program since its inception in 1983 as part of a federal jobs stimulus bill. He said the program was started to address what was then seen as an emergency-only issue, homelessness. That’s how it became part of FEMA. But as years went on, he said, homelessness was seen as a more pervasive, complex problem and one that affected not just down-and-out men with substance abuse or mental health problems but women, children and families. Dischler said it’s one of the easier federal grant programs to run and therefore helps a lot of smaller nonprofits with little budget for overhead. But this year, federal funding for the program was cut from $200 million in 2010 to about $120 million. It could be a sign of what’s to come in an era of federal belt-tightening.

Criteria for the FEMA homeless funds have always included poverty and unemployment rates. This year, local communities receiving direct funding had to match or exceed an 11.5 percent unemployment rate and a 14.4 percent poverty rate. Douglas County’s rates were 5.1 percent unemployment and 9.8 percent poverty. Theresa Christensen of the Salvation Army in Omaha said that charity faces a loss of nearly $13,000, half of which went to food. “Almost $7,000 worth of food is a lot of food,” said Christensen, homeless and behavioral health services director. “Our food pantry (visits) are up 25 percent, and like everybody, we’re struggling to keep up with the need.”

Reprinted with permission

http://www.omaha.com/article/20110812/NEWS01/708129913

The housing and homelessness crisis in the United States has worsened over the past two years, particularly due to the current economic and foreclosure crises. By some estimates, more than 311,000 people nationwide have been evicted from their homes this year after lenders took over the properties.

People being evicted from foreclosed properties and the economic crisis in general have contributed to the growing homeless population. As more people fall into homelessness, local service providers are seeing an increase in the demand for services.

An unfortunate trend in many cities around the country has been to turn to the criminal justice system to deal with the homeless people living in public spaces.

This trend includes measures that target homeless people by making it illegal to perform normal activities in public. These measures prohibit activities such as sleeping/camping, eating, sitting, and begging in public spaces, usually including criminal penalties for violation of these laws.
The criminalization of the homeless includes:
• Legislation that makes it illegal to sleep, sit, or store personal belongings in public spaces in cities where people are forced to live in public spaces;
• Selective enforcement of more neutral laws, such as loitering or open container laws, against homeless persons;
• Sweeps of city areas where homeless persons are living to drive them out of the area, frequently resulting in the destruction of those persons’ personal property, including important personal documents and medication; and
• Laws that punish people for begging or panhandling to move poor or homeless persons out of a city or downtown area.

Sarasota, FL
In February 2005, the City Commission unanimously approved an ordinance prohibiting “lodging out of doors.” The previous “no-camping” law was ruled unconstitutional by a state court last year because it was too vague and punished innocent conduct. A new law prohibited using any public or private property for “lodging” outdoors without permission from the property owner.

In June 2005, a state court found the “no lodging law” unconstitutional. County Judge David L. Denkin said the ordinance gave police officers too much discretion in deciding who is a threat to public health and safety, and who is just taking a nap on the beach. City commissioners have long insisted that the ordinances are about protecting people, but the ordinance has been used to arrest homeless persons.

Nonetheless, in August 2005, the city commissioners passed yet another ordinance, strangely similar to the previous two that were ruled unconstitutional. The new ordinance makes it a crime to sleep without permission on city or private property, either in a tent or makeshift shelter, or while “atop or covered by materials.” The city commissioners invented a list of criteria to determine if a person violates the new law.

One or more of the following five features must be observed in order to make an arrest: “numerous items of personal belongings are present; the person is engaged in cooking activities, the person has built or is maintaining a fire, the person has engaged in digging or earth-breaking activities, or the person is asleep and when awakened states that he or she has no other place to live.”

Advocates were shocked that the ordinance actually includes being homeless, or having “no other place to live” as itself a criterion for arrest. Advocates argue that this ordinance, like its predecessors, targets homeless people. The new law has been challenged in state court by defendants who were charged under the law. The court upheld the law, finding it constitutional.

Little Rock, AR.
The city’s agenda with regard to homeless people has become more aggressive and blatant in the following incidents:

The only day shelter, and only place where homeless people could wash their clothes, Saint Francis House, closed in 2005 after a long history of police harassment of homeless people using that facility, as well as a withdrawal of funds for its operation. When asked to comment upon the closing of Saint Francis House, Sharon Priest, a spokesperson for the Downtown Partnership, said that she was “glad” it was gone, but was still not satisfied, because of “that soup kitchen [Stewpot] which is right there.”

Other reports compiled by Hunger-Free Arkansas indicate the criminalization of homeless men and women throughout the city. In a case of illegal search and seizure, a state trooper illegally searched and detained a homeless man, by claiming he suspected the homeless man was dealing drugs. The state trooper arrested the individual, who spent the night in jail and missed work the next day. The homeless man had no record of any drug-related offenses. Upon release from prison, only his driver’s license was returned. He did not receive his wallet or other property before he was told to leave. Due to the arrest, the homeless man was suspended from work for 30 days and was taunted by employees for having to spend the night in jail.

In another incident, two homeless men reported officers of the Little Rock Police Department, in separate incidents, had kicked them out of the Little Rock Bus Station. Both men were holding valid tickets and transfers. Despite showing the police their tickets, both men were told that although the buses they were awaiting would arrive within 30 minutes, they could not wait on the premises because they were loitering. The police subsequently evicted the men. In some instances, others have been told that they could not wait at the bus station “because you are homeless.”
For more information on cities that persecute the homeless click here.

On March 30, the Congressional Caucus on Homelessness hosted a briefing on family homelessness:”A Growing Epidemic: Homeless Children, Youth and Families.” The briefing was held in collaboration with a coalition of advocates including The National Center. Highlights included newly introduced legislation, the “Educational Success for Children and Youth Without Homes Act of 2011.” This bill amends the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program and Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It promotes school stability; improves access to transportation; increases school districts’ ability to identify and serve homeless children; and increases access to early childhood education, summer school, before and after-school programs, and other educational opportunities. Learn more from NAEHCY.

Under McKinney-Vento, school districts must: appoint a McKinney-Vento liaison; identify homeless children and youths; implement a coordinated system for ensuring that homeless children and youths are advised of their rights, are immediately enrolled, and are provided necessary services, including transportation to and from the child’s school of origin, as well as special education, gifted and talented services, etc.; document that written notice of rights has been provided; prohibit schools from segregating homeless children; and identify and remove barriers that may cause difficulties in the educational success of homeless children and youths.

The McKinney-Vento Act also guarantees that homeless students have the right to continue attending their school of origin. School of origin is defined as the school that the child or youth attended when permanently housed or the school in which the child or youth was last enrolled. For example, if a child was attending school in District A while permanently housed but during the school year became homeless and was living in a shelter in a different district, the school in District A would be the school of origin.

Unfortunately, many school districts ignore the McKinney-Vento Act and continue to discriminate and criminalize homeless students and their parents.

Homeless woman prosecuted for enrolling son in Connecticut school

Connecticut authorities recently filed theft charges against Tanya McDowell, a homeless woman, alleging that she used a false address to enroll her son in a higher-income school district, The Stamford Advocate reported. If she’s convicted, McDowell may end up in jail for as many as 20 years and pay a $15,000 fine for the crime.

McDowell is a homeless single mother from Bridgeport who used to work in food services, is now at the center of one of the very few false address cases in the Norwalk, CT, school district that is being handled in criminal court–rather than between the parent and school.

Authorities are accusing McDowell of enrolling her 5-year-old son in nearby Norwalk schools by using the address of a friend. (Her friend has also been evicted from public housing for letting McDowell use her address.)

McDowell says she stayed in a Norwalk homeless shelter sometimes–but she didn’t register there, which would have made her son eligible to attend the school. “I had no idea whatsoever that if you enroll your child in another school district, it becomes a crime,” the 33-year-old told The Stamford Advocate.

According to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, if a dispute arises between a school district and a homeless family regarding school placement, the child must be immediately enrolled in the school of the parent’s choice (usually, the school of origin) until the dispute is resolved.

It is very important that the child not be kept out of school while the dispute is being resolved. Each school district must have a written dispute resolution policy in place. For more information on this issue in your state please click here.

Tonya McDowell, 33, whose last known address was 66 Priscilla St., Bridgeport, was charged with first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny for allegedly stealing $15,686 from Norwalk schools. (The amount the school alleges is the cost for her 5 year old son’s education.)

She was released after posting a $25,000 bond. McDowell’s babysitter, Ana Rebecca Marques, was also evicted from her Roodner Court public housing apartment for providing documents to enroll the child at Brookside Elementary School.

She said she knew a man who owned a home on Priscilla Street and he allowed her to sleep at the home at night, but she had to leave the home during the day until he returned from work.

She also acknowledged that she stays from time to time at the Norwalk Emergency Shelter when she has nowhere else to stay.
McDowell also admitted that Marques was her son’s babysitter from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. after the boy got out of school.

After the Norwalk Housing Authority became aware that Marques helped McDowell by providing documents needed to get McDowell’s son into Brookside, Marques was evicted from her apartment in January.

The school system always speculates that students are attending Norwalk schools from outside the district, and they hire private investigators to look into the allegations. This is the district’s way of cracking down on this.

Norwalk Board of Education Chairman Jack Chiaramonte expressed surprise at McDowell’s arrest and the investigation that led to it. “I don’t get that at all,” Chiaramonte said. “Usually when they find a kid out of district, they send him back. I have never heard of people being arrested for it, but I am not sure of the law. For my understanding, whenever we find someone from another district we send them back.”

Mayor Richard Moccia said that he was aware that an investigation was proceeding in the case and that an arrest was possible and said, “This now sends a message to other parents that may have been living in other towns and registering their kids with phony addresses.”

Homeless Children Denied Equal Access to Education in Hawaii

Homeless parents and children face innumerable barriers when they try to access education in the Hawaii public school system. Alice Greenwood, is one of eight plaintiffs named in a lawsuit who is a homeless parent with physical disabilities whose 6-year-old child missed 33 days of school last year because state officials failed to provide transportation. She said, “Every child deserves an education. He shouldn’t be punished just because he’s homeless. It’s not his fault.”

Olivé Kaleuati and Venise Lewis reported similar problems. School officials refused to allow Kaleuati’s children to enroll because they were unable to provide a permanent address or moved out of the school area. As a result, the children were forced to miss school or change schools. Lewis reported numerous incidences where her children had to skip school because she had no money to pay for bus fare.

Plaintiffs repeatedly plead with school officials for help – only to be threatened or ignored. Tragically, these examples are typical of the problems reported by homeless parents and children throughout the state.

Calling the state of Hawaii’s treatment of homeless children a travesty, the American Civil Liberties Union joined other civil rights groups and attorneys in filing a class action lawsuit challenging the state’s failure to provide homeless children with equal access to public education.

The lawsuit – filed on behalf of the homeless parents and their children – charges state officials with ignoring their legal obligations to provide homeless children with equal access to a free and appropriate public education in violation of the McKinney-Vento Act. The lawsuit also charges state officials with violating constitutional requirements to provide equal access to public education without regard to the status of homelessness.

All of this points to one of the biggest reasons why we must overhaul how we fund the American public education system. It makes no sense to deny children — especially those from the poorest households — the ability to get a high-quality education. Yet this will continue as long as school funding remains in a black hole in which the state funds large portions of the cost, while the flow of local dollars allows for districts to oppose expansive school choices and shortchange children.

In Connecticut, for example, state revenues account for only 38 percent of all school spending, well below the 48 percent national average (in Norwalk, the state contributes just 22 percent).

If Connecticut took over full funding, it could allow for more-expansive school choices and ultimately, hold failing districts such as Bridgeport accountable for its academic neglect.

We all want better lives for our children than what we had. Parents deserve the ability to give their children opportunities for success in life. De-criminalization of homeless parents, expanding school choices, and ending zip code education is needed as part of homelessness reform.

The Criminalization of Homelessness report comes out every two years, in January. The entire report is available on NCH’s website.

On Sunday, March 6th, 60 Minutes aired a segment about the impact the recession has had on families and children. It featured the efforts of Seminole County Schools’ homeless education program and its school district homeless liaison, Beth Davalos.

After the program aired Seminole County was inundated with calls from people asking how they could help. Although this has been an enormous problem in our country for years, most people were shocked to find out that this was going on in a country so rich with resources.
I was shocked to hear that so many people were unaware of the homeless problem among youth and school children.

Do we still hold to the stereotype that homeless people are lazy, drug addicts living off of our tax dollars?

Could it be that so many of us are so wrapped up in our own little world of iPhones, Kindels, and plasma TVs that those who struggle with day to day necessities become invisible to us?

National statistics report the number of homeless kids at more than 1.5 million. More than 500 thousand are still under the age of 15, and some are as young as nine!

As responsible people we should try to reach these kids! We should try and try again. And if we commit ourselves to stepping out of our comfort zone to help just one homeless family we may never know, that a few years from now, a youngster was able to leave the streets because of the commitment and work we did today.

The single greatest need, for homeless and street kids is our continuous caring and real support. We must convince them that we care, and we want to help them get off the streets. Don’t give up. They need us!

13 homeless youth die every day!

How Many Children and Youth Experience Homelessness?
Final national numbers for the 2008-2009 school year have not yet been compiled by the U.S. Department of Education. According to the most recent federal data, in the 2008-2009 school year, 954,914 homeless children and youth were enrolled in public schools.

This is a 20 percent increase from the 2007-2008 school year, and a 41% increase from the 2006-2007 school year. It is important to note that this number is not an exact estimate of child and youth homelessness; in fact, it is an underestimate, because not all school districts reported data to the U.S. Department of Education, and because the data collected represents only those children identified and enrolled in school.

Finally, the number does not include all preschool-age children, or any infants and toddlers. The economic downturn and foreclosure crisis have had a significant impact on homelessness: according to a national survey, one in five responding school districts reported having more homeless children in the Fall of 2008 than over the course of the entire 2007-2008 school year.

Recent research indicates that child homelessness may be more widespread than school data suggests. A study published in the August 2009 edition of the American Journal of Public Health found that seven percent of fifth-graders and their families have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.

How Does Homelessness Affect Children and Youth’s Education?
With life filled with such uncertainty and loss, school should be a place of safety, structure, and opportunity. Yet homeless children and youth face difficult barriers to basic education.

These barriers include being unable to meet enrollment requirements. (Providing proof of residency, legal guardianship, and school health records.) Lack of transportation; lack of school supplies and clothing; and poor health, fatigue, and hunger are also a big problem for these children. When these barriers are not addressed, homeless children and youth often are unable to attend, or even enroll in, school, which prevents them from obtaining the education that is both their legal right and their best hope of escaping poverty as adults.

What Educational Rights Do Homeless Children and Youth Have?
Subtitle VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (referred to as the McKinney-Vento Act) is a federal law designed to remove barriers to education created by homelessness, and thereby increase the enrollment, attendance, and success of children and youth experiencing homelessness. Key provisions of the Act include:
* Students who are homeless can remain in one school, even if their temporary living situation is located in another school district or attendance area, if that is in their best interest. Schools must provide transportation.
* Children and youth who are homeless can enroll in school and begin attending immediately, even if they cannot produce normally required documents, such as birth certificates, proof of guardianship, immunization records, or proof of residency.
* Every school district must designate a homeless liaison to ensure the McKinney-Vento Act is implemented in the district. Homeless liaisons have many critical responsibilities, including identification, enrollment, and collaboration with community agencies.
* Every state must designate a state coordinator to ensure the McKinney-Vento Act is implemented in the state.
* Both state coordinators and homeless liaisons must collaborate with other agencies serving homeless children, youth, and families to enhance educational attendance and success.
* State departments of education and school districts must review and revise their policies and practices to eliminate barriers to the enrollment and retention in school of homeless children and youth.

What Can I Do to Help?
There are many ways to help children and youth experiencing homelessness:
Volunteer or donate locally
Every community is unique, so it is important to learn the needs that have been identified by your local school district and by community service providers.
Contact your School District
Every school district is required to designate a local homeless education liaison, which is responsible for coordinating services and support for homeless students attending in the district. You can contact your local liaison by calling your school district, or you may contact your State Coordinator for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.
Contact a Community Service Provider in your area
To find local homeless service providers in your community, please visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Continuum of Care webpage http://www.hudhre.info/index.cfm?do=viewCocContacts or the National Coalition for the Homeless’ national, state, and local directories. http://www.nationalhomeless.org/directories/index.html

Continuing my profiles of organizations in Omaha who reach out to the homeless and low income families I would like to highlight a very important ministry to the community.

Mission For All Nations

Mission For All Nations is a faith-based charitable organization founded to put love into action by providing food, clothing, shelter and other necessities to people of all ethnic backgrounds who are in need. They are creating an environment where lives are being changed instead of fostering dependency.

Last year their Homelessness and Hunger Prevention program supplied food pantry orders to provide a 5-7 day supply of food equivalent to over ½ a million meals to 26,870 individuals in economic distress along with personal hygiene products for each household. That is more food distributed directly to clients than any other pantry in the state of Nebraska. Additionally, nearly 20,000 clients received clothing and household goods. Overall, nearly $2 million in necessities were distributed to improve the lives of people experiencing an urgent need.

Their History

Josue Anaya was sent away from El Salvador by his mother in order to escape the bloody civil war in 1984. Later that year, after getting separated from his missionary contact, he nearly froze to death on the streets of Des Moines. After a dramatic rescue, he believed God had saved him to help others in similar desperate circumstances. In 1986, he married his wife Mary, and over the years they frequently provided shelter for homeless people out of their home. In 1992, they moved to Omaha and in 1999 both graduated from ministry school and started a small bilingual church. After working two years in the South Omaha community and receiving frequent requests for assistance with basic needs, they realized that the need was greater than they alone could meet.

The Anayas, ordained ministers fluent in English and Spanish, had started a church in 1999 in South Omaha. But they were constantly helping visitors with clothes and food.

“The ministry grew more into a pantry than a church,” Mary Anaya told The World-Herald in 2004. “We realized that what was needed in this community maybe wasn’t what we originally thought. We changed gears.”

A group of local business owners and clergy was asked to form a board for a new organization, and Mission For All Nations was born in November of 2002. The new organization was incorporated in January 2003 for the purpose of providing food, clothing and shelter for the needy of all ethnic backgrounds. Mission For All Nations is now the largest food pantry in a 93-county area of Nebraska and Iowa. The organization incorporated in 2003 and quickly grew to encompass three buildings in the 21st and Q Streets area.

Pastor Mary Anaya

Pastor Mary Anaya dedicated her life to the Lord and the spreading of the Gospel by demonstrating love in action and serving people in need. Her hard work was paramount in developing Mission For All Nations into the largest food pantry in the area. Her passion for the poor was evident in everything that she did and has made our community a better place to live.

Though diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer early in her pregnancy, she tried to continue her work with the food pantry she co-founded. But she died early Wednesday, October 21, 2009 just after midnight at Bergan Mercy Medical Center at age 42. So did her 19-week-old unborn baby due in March whom she carried, leaving behind her family and a long history of loving her neighbor as herself. She will be missed but her legacy will continue to be carried on through the work of Mission For All Nations.

Mary was the organization. When you said, ‘Mary Anaya,’ everyone knew it was Mission For All Nations. She gave everything she had. She and husband Josue would have given the last box of food out of their home cupboard to help somebody.

Anaya, who had no cancer history and was not a smoker, went to see a doctor Aug. 21, 2009 when she was having difficulty breathing. She was hospitalized for fluid buildup on her lungs. She was later diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.

Cancer during pregnancy is rare but not unheard of — about 1 in 1,000 pregnancies coincide with a mother’s diagnosis of cancer, according to the Houston-based M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Mary was in her first trimester when diagnosed with cancer and was told that the disease was too advanced for treatment options.

The Omaha Food Bank has distributed almost 278,000 pounds of food to Mission for All Nations. That represents about a quarter of the 1.16 million pounds of food the food bank distributed to 55 agencies in Douglas County.

Unlike most food pantries, which limit visits to several times a year, Mission For All Nations had an open-door policy for the needy, as long as they volunteered.

In 2009 Mission for All Nations provided 37,109 individuals with a week’s supply of food and 240 families were provided a 1-2 day supply of food. Clients also received 29,398 clothing and household items.

Watch Mission For All Nation video here

As we approach the holidays Mission For All Nations is in need of turkeys and holiday foods. They anticipate serving over 4,500 people in November alone. An extra donation of $31 will help provide holiday food for the working poor. They also need extra volunteers to help with food distribution and toy registration for their ‘Christmas for South O Program.’

If you are interested in helping Mission for All Nations you can contact them at (402) 733-2077 or register online here

For more information about Mission for All nations visit http://www.missionfan.com/index.htm