How Can The Community Help The Homeless – So you want to help the homeless! There is a need for your service throughout Utah. Some opportunities have age restrictions, so be sure to check. If you find an opportunity you love, be sure to share your service story!
The Road Home – Men’s Resource Center, Gail Miller Resource Center, and Midvale Family Resource Center The Road Home relies on volunteers to help us provide programs and services to individuals and families in our community who are working to overcome homelessness. Volunteers help with a variety of projects, from weekly programs to dinners, eagle projects, and children’s activities.
How Can The Community Help The Homeless
INN Between is primarily a volunteer organization that relies on compassionate people willing to share their time and talents. As a volunteer at The INN Between, you will help with socializing, activities, meal preparation, cleanup, organization, food and clothing, events, marketing, and more. We strive to find volunteer opportunities that match your skills and interests. Learn more and apply here!
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Volunteers of America Utah volunteers impact the lives of approximately 10,000 children, youth, women and men who live in Utah each year. You can find a permanent opportunity or apply to serve meals at the Youth Resource Center or the Center for Women and Children. You can apply to volunteer alone or with a group!
Volunteer at a food pantry! Find your local pantry online and check out their volunteer opportunities! You can help sort the food and make “pantry packs”! Have fun while you help solve hunger in your community!
You did not find what you were looking for? Visit JustServe.org to find even more local volunteer opportunities! Enter your ZIP code, click “+more search options” and select “Homeless and Hungry” in the “Great for Interested People” column.
If you find a volunteer opportunity you like, don’t forget to tell us! We would love to highlight your service! Austin Street Art offers a studio space where vulnerable people can safely practice their art. Although the studio had to close during the pandemic, selling artwork online and sending art kits were ways to support its creators.
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For the homeless, art catalyzes economic mobility and rewrites the narrative “We create a sense of community and empowerment: the belief that creation can validate your existence.”
Larry Williams has been surrounded by art for most of his life. He grew up in Tennessee with parents who taught music and drama at the college level. The practice room for black students at the time was in his house, where, he says, four pianos were located.
He turned away from art and painting during his teens, when he was more interested in boxing and baseball. And he did not meet the brush again until about 40 years later.
“I’ve been through a divorce, a midlife crisis,” Williams says. “Homelessness was something I never thought about, intimately. It’s coming at you… not just fast, but dramatically.” He was living at the Austin Research Center for the Homeless (ARCH) when he came across Art of the Streets (AFTS). The program gave him a refuge from the “culture shock” of homelessness, he says.
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AFTS is a non-profit organization started 12 years ago to provide the homeless with a way to make and sell their original works of art at an annual art show. It is run by a volunteer board of directors, who manage the website and inventory and provide open studio space and high-quality art supplies for artists, mostly acrylics, pastels or charcoal, and paper.
“What I found was that they had a lot of paper and a lot of paint. But most of all, they had people [who] were always there when they said they would be,” says Williams. “They were present.”
Williams describes his artistic style as “primordial,” a word, and a technique, which he finally arrived at after years of trial and error, he says. His themes include animals, landscapes, jazz, and African-American themes. He is influenced by the flourishes and curves of Japanese architecture. He likes to wear bright colors. But most importantly, his artistic mantra stems from something he heard his mother say to his art students years ago: “Keep it simple, keep it simple. Don’t tell your audience the whole story, she said. Let them draw their own conclusions.
Williams sums up his experience with AFTS and painting as a practice that gives him “stability, sobriety and a sense of entitlement” as well as ownership of his life. Through AFTS, he managed to sell enough artwork to move into his own apartment five years ago, where he still lives today. He works part time for the city and paints as much as he can; he tries to paint 30 new pieces a year.
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“Many of our artists have come off the streets because of our program,” says Pat Chapman, AFTS studio coordinator. At first, artists were paid only once a year for the art they sold at a large annual art show. They have now expanded the program to offer prints of original artwork, as well as other merchandise, along with smaller pop-ups and shows throughout the year. This approach has provided many artists with a steady living income, Chapman says. They still have an annual art show at the Neil Kocurek Memorial Center in Austin, which can raise over $100,000, all of which is distributed to artists.
Throughout history, many artists, especially those who were women and people of color, would have been marginalized and impoverished if they had not pursued their craft and been paid for it. In the United States, approximately 567,000 people without shelter, or more than 17 million living in extreme poverty, have fallen through the gaps in our increasingly inadequate social safety net. Many have jobs but do not receive a living wage. They cannot afford housing options in your area; they live in cars, tents, local shelters, or on the streets. Lack of affordable housing and inadequate income remain the leading causes of homelessness in the US, according to the National Center on Homelessness and Poverty Law.
Next City spoke to artists who have had significant experience living with extreme economic hardship or homelessness, how it changed their perception of themselves and intersected with their own pre-existing stigmas surrounding non-residents, and ultimately how it influenced or catalyzed his art. For most, economic hardship and homelessness represent varying degrees of financial, emotional, and physical vulnerability, and their artistic expressions manifest that vulnerability. For some, art builds self-esteem. For others, art is a path to economic mobility. For most, their practice fosters a sense of home. In this article, Next City explores how three arts communities are empowered and realized through creative endeavors: Art From the Streets in Austin, MudGirls in Atlantic City, and a conglomerate of artists and arts organizations in the Skid Row neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles. .
Austin experienced an 11 percent increase in homelessness in 2020, including more than 1,500 left without shelter. “Our homeless population is at an extreme point in Austin,” says Ruth Adams, AFTS volunteer coordinator.
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AFTS’s goal is to meet artists where they are and help them “get up, not out,” she says. The emphasis is on equal access to art. AFTS gives them the tools and space to discover their personal skills and provides a platform to sell their art.
“Our artists are part of our AFTS family, and serving them intelligently and efficiently is our number one concern,” says Adams. “We know our artists in their resilience and we move and adapt with them,” she says, echoing a sentiment expressed at a recent board meeting.
AFTS doesn’t fit into an existing model or rubric, she says. They are unique both in this area and throughout the country, with a few exceptions.
“Throughout our history there have been people who, had it not been for their talent, would have been marginalized,” says John Trahar, recently appointed chairman of the board. He was drawn to the show because of the almost instantaneous transformation of the labels, from “homeless” to “artist.” Pervasive and misleading stereotypes about vulnerable people are deeply embedded in the American consciousness, and the ability to destigmatize them through art is powerful, he says.
Ways That You
“[AFTS] provides this opportunity and the ability to interact with society in a way that generates positive feedback, both in terms of what they’ve created, with their own mind and skill, and financially, [because] people like enough to pay for it,” he says. That feedback pays dividends far beyond the dollars earned, and the effect is visible. The show emphasizes self-determination theory, because focusing only on housing doesn’t always mean maintaining quality of life, she says.
Trahar’s main goals were to expand the program and revamp the website to make the platform more lucrative for artists.
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