One of the important activities that we have to implement in our first period of the Development Instructor program is to investigate a social issue by doing theoretical and practical research.
The January team had the influence of a prior team who recommended a topic which they did when they started, Homeless in Chicago. The team decided to research this topic, as well as to investigate the services that are accessible to the homeless in the city of Chicago.
In connection with our theoretical studies, we found a list of shelters available to the homeless that live in Chicago. Most of the shelters were open to sharing information which gave us the idea that they want citizens to get more involved in promoting social programs for the poorest people in the city.
With that in mind we set up appointments with the “Lincoln Park Community Center” and “The Boulevard” for us to volunteer on the meal program they have on weekends. With this opportunity we could come close to the population of homeless that attended the activity, cooking for them and serving the meal with interaction on both parts, generating a bond of trust to be able to approach us in a sincere conversation.
Once in the field and engaged on the subject, we came to the conclusion that most of the homeless people in Chicago are a product of the lack of mental health facilities to be of service to the citizens. Another factor is that people have trust issues with the government facilities and most of them get scared about their information getting on record.
As Development Instructors we are here to create social programs to help the needy, in our case the poor in third world countries, but this experience helping the Homeless of one of the richest countries in the world gave us another perspective on what can be implemented in the future of our work.
During the weekend we were happy to be able to contribute to the Homeless of Chicago in several meal programs, thus getting closer to several of them and seeing their life conditions. After the weekend we decided to collect some clothes and shoes to send to them, as that was what they needed most in the shelters.
We encourage you as a non-homeless citizen to get involved in your community needs and to remember that “No Gesture is too big or too small”. This was the motto of all the employees of the shelters in order to promote actions to assist the homeless.
Written by: Sophie Whitlock - January Team