By Terrisita Terry
On October 2, Nicholas House will host its annual fundraiser “Off the Street, On Their Feet: Sleeping Outside to Support Homeless Families.” The event is a movement of individuals who accept the challenge to sleep outside for one night in solidarity on behalf of 5,000+ metro Atlantans experiencing homelessness every night. On this night, power meets purpose. Proceeds from the event provide access to housing, transportation, food, after-school care, job readiness and placement, health care, case management, and other supportive services for homeless parents and their children.
Due to COVID-19, this year’s Sleeping Outside event will look a little different and will take place virtually. Participants will still sleep outside to raise critical funds and awareness for families experiencing homelessness, but instead they’ll be in their back yards, living rooms, their driveways, on their balconies, or somewhere else in order to practice social distancing for the event. The goal is not to replicate the experience or pretend to be homeless. For one night, we’re stepping outside our comfort zones to send a heartfelt message to homeless families that we care and want to help. All ages are welcome to participate.
Using Zoom online technology, the virtual event will include live music, videos, games, children’s activities, health and wellness mini workshops, COVID-19 education, a voter registration drive, healthy cooking demonstrations, testimonials by formerly homeless families, an overview of Nicholas House’s programs, a special candlelight ceremony and more. Registration is required to participate in the Zoom virtual event; the fee is $25. Register for the event and/or sign up for a Peer-to-Peer fundraiser for homeless families at www.nicholashouse.org. Peer-to-Peer fundraising goals are: Students–$150; Adults–$250; Couples–$500; Groups/Organizations–$1,200. Help raise funds for a great cause.
Families represent an increasingly large proportion of the homeless population; 37% of Georgia’s homeless are families with children, with numbers rising to 42% in Fulton County and 51% in DeKalb County. Nicholas House is working with community partners to end family homelessness in Atlanta, making it rare, brief, and non-recurring. Nicholas House was appointed as the only family homeless service provider to the City of Atlanta’s Strategic Planning Committee to address homelessness. “Off the Street, On Their Feet will heighten awareness of the reality of family homelessness. Participants are lending their voices, networks and resources to help. I am proud of the community’s support for homeless families who are put at serious risk night after night,” says Dennis Bowman, Executive Director of Nicholas House.
The event is being supported by several community sponsors. Joshua Murfee, Jr., Chief Operations Officer for Fulton DeKalb Hospital Authority, says “We are honored to sponsor the Nicholas House Sleeping Outside Event again this year. Our continued partnership will help improve access to care and promote the health and well-being of residents in the greater Atlanta community.” And Debra Tyler Horton, AARP Georgia State Director, adds, “We are delighted to support the Nicholas House Sleeping Outside Event and its efforts that inspire residents to live their best lives. We are also excited to provide a voter education session on AARP’s #ProtectVoters50Plus campaign geared toward ensuring those who are 50-plus can vote safely during the upcoming election.”
For over 38 years, Nicholas House has provided comprehensive housing and case management services to more than 13,000 homeless family members. Each night, Nicholas House serves over 300 homeless parents and their children. We help homeless families improve skills and education to earn a living wage, maintain a healthy home environment, and sustain their own housing. We accept any family composition and size. We hold families accountable with specific goals, action steps, and evaluations. We focus on long-term outcomes, following families for two years after they leave programs to ensure long-term impact. As a result, 90% of families served maintain their own permanent housing a year or more after leaving the program.
For more information about the “Off the Street, On Their Feet: Sleeping Outside to Support Homeless Families” event and details about programs and services provided by Nicholas House, please visit www.nicholashouse.org.