While it’s common to shudder at the thought of experiencing homelessness in the bitter winters, being homeless in the summer presents its own challenges too. Lack of access to shade and water often lead to dehydration, creating a dangerous environment for heat stroke and other health complications. With limited amount of staff and resources at nonprofits, overcrowded shelters, and places open only during the day, those experiencing homelessness are left to fend for themselves during these months. And just think about the bugs! For us bug bites come after a night of enjoying ourselves outside for a couple hours, but imagine if you never got any relief. If that’s not bad enough, bug bites can lead to infections and the spread of diseases - having a few tiny little problems turn into some really big ones. Ready to help out?
Here’s a couple ways you can assist those experiencing homelessness during the summer:
- Start a food bank at your church or local gathering space. Creating a safe space for those individuals to nourish their bodies is the first step to staying safe and healthy in the heat. Check out The Global Foodbanking Network Toolkit to find out how to start your own or start a local food drive.
- Carry water bottles, hats, bug spray and sunscreen in your car. We don’t recommend keeping a case of water in your car all summer due to the heat, but when you know you’re going to be driving around it wouldn’t hurt to grab a few extra cold ones from the fridge to pass out to those in need.
- Petition for more shade in your neighborhood and communities. Obviously this is not a quick fix, but something that would be beneficial in the long run. Look around – do your bus stops have shelters? Are there places of shade in your parks? A little more shade would be for everyone to enjoy. Make sure to petition for drinking fountains in public places too!
- Donate your gently worn shoes to shelters and local organizations. Having to be on your feet all day is extremely tiring and even worse if you don’t have proper footwear. Giving those who are homeless shoes is a good way to prevent any other medical conditions from occurring.
It’s important to remember that the majority of individuals who are homeless in America are experiencing what’s called situational homelessness - meaning the cause of their homelessness is due to a life altering event like job loss, health emergencies, a divorce, a natural disaster, domestic abuse, housing scams or death in the family. That’s why the best thing you can do, as an individual or as a community, is to provide the necessary support for these individuals to return to work.
At Rebel Nell, we play our part by providing year-long transitional employment with workforce development and skill-building programs to help our Designers regain their self-sufficiency. Taking care of each other means inviting our family, friends and neighbors into our businesses. To create human-centric services. To focus on the impact of a company instead of the output. And it starts with us.