Homelessness In America ~ True Stories.
60% of People in Shelters Are Kids!
Although this chart reflects conditions in 2011, these statistics on homelessness in America still are typical, and the effects on children’s ability to be healthy, eat regularly, learn and become happy or productive workers is enormous. So, it’s not just a personal problem, it’s a long-term societal issue. It’s even worse when they are living on the street, because there is no room in a shelter, or because the shelters are too dangerous! Shelters are dangerous? Yes, because of drugs, crime and violence. Yes, because of banned hot plates (the only way to cook) setting things on fire. Yes, because of rampant physical and sexual abuse. (See bottom of this post re a play about domestic violence.)
Q: How Can We Raise Awareness About Homelessness in America?
A: I found a hundred ways to work it into conversations, like: while doing my own shopping, I would pick up some sets (often on sale) of underwear or toiletries, and casually announce to the checkout clerk (in clear earshot of others in line) that I was buying the goodies to give to homeless people, since most donations do not include personal items, such as these.
I also went to flea markets at the end of hot, humid, exhausting days, and asked the vendors to give me whatever they did not feel like packing to take home, and I would take their items to the shelters. They were so relieved to be relieved of more work that they packed my car to the point I could hardly see out of the windows!
There are lots of ways to help. However, one of my favorites is when I scripted the true stories of homeless people in Washington, D.C. as Performing Arts. Wikipedia re Performing Arts:
Performing arts are art forms in which artists use their voices and/or the movements of their bodies, often in relation to other objects, to convey artistic expression—as opposed to, for example, purely visual arts, in which artists use paint/canvas or various materials to create physical or static art objects. Performing arts include a variety of disciplines but all are intended to be performed in front of a live audience.
The homeless people and I performed these True Stories for a multitude of educational, religious, civic, and governmental organizations, including members of Congress and a Governor’s Conference on Housing and Homelessness. Our performance also was recorded by the National Archives; one script was entered into the Congressional Record; and several were part of a cable television show. A number of unsolicited awards were bestowed on me for this work, which we found valuable in fund or consciousness-raising events.
The monologues can be used singly or as a collection and are available as a playbook, with copyright permissions granted. The scripts can be memorized or used as dramatic readings. There is a discounted price for non-profits, which usually includes schools or community theater groups. I also can be booked to perform the scripts as dramatic readings in a One Woman Show. Check it out here: My Persuasive Presentations, LLC.
I also created a play about domestic violence, which was performed at a shelter in front of people who were both abused and the abusers.
Afterward, both groups came up to me and said they now understood the chain (cycle) of violence better and, for the first time, felt they might overcome it! Here is the link to “Break The Chain.”
This play also is easy to present, having few characters and few sets to create.
Even though there are great dangers (like dehydration and heat stroke) for homeless people during the summer, we all know they are at risk of freezing in the winter; so, if you would like to help raise awareness through the performance of my scripts, let me know.
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Thanks for Sharing Life With Me!