While training for the NYC Marathon, I would run past the Auburn Family Shelter, which is eight blocks from where I live. It's a 190-unit family shelter for approximately 600 people. It provides shelter, food, social services, access to medical care, educational services with the goal of obtaining permanent housing.
I'd like to raise money during marathon week to go towards the Bedtimes Stories and Art Explorers nights at the shelter, which I'm planning to volunteer for more often when the marathon is over. These two programs, which are run through New York Cares, provide arts and crafts activities and reading time with children who are living in the shelter on Tuesday evenings. The kids are wonderful—full of energy and lots of fun to spend time with. I'm raising money to purchase books and supplies for these programs and New York Cares said they will designate the money specifically for the children at the Auburn Family Shelter.
As documented in the New York Daily News and the New York Times, conditions at the shelter are not great for residents—it's sweltering hot in the summer, and very cold in the winter, with poor facilities, and bug and rodent problems—but would-be activists have had trouble speaking out for fear of retaliation.
"I want to start positive," a resident told the Brooklyn Rail before describing some of the problems that she faces personally, "so I want you to know that I enjoy the children in the building. The kids are oblivious to the fact that they’re homeless."
Here are some statistics from the Coalition for the Homeless 2013 Report:
· In January 2013, an average of 50,135 homeless people slept each night in New York City’s municipal shelter system – the first time NYC has recorded more than 50,000 people sleeping each night in municipal shelters.
· In January a record 21,034 homeless children slept each night in the municipal shelter system, a 22 percent increase from the previous year.
· Homeless families make up nearly four out of five (78 percent) of all homeless people residing each night in the NYC municipal shelter system. And homeless children comprise 41 percent of the total shelter population.
· The average shelter stay for homeless families with children is now over one year (375 days), up 10 percent from the previous year.
A donation as small as $10 will brighten these kids' days. Thanks for your support!
New York Cares was founded by a group of friends who wanted to take action against serious social issues that faced our city in the late 1980s. Finding few options to help, they created their own organization to address the problems from the ground up.
New York Cares is now the city's largest volunteer management organization, running volunteer programs for 1,300 nonprofits, city agencies, and public schools. Today's volunteers share our founders' vision that we all have a role to play in making our city a better place.