Finding solutions to help end homelessness in America

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-Written by Erik Sargent

As we roll through the winter months and the holiday season, many people are spending time with their loved ones in nice, warm homes, enjoying this wonderful time of year. Unfortunately, for an alarming number of people in the country, this is not the case.

The issues of homelessness in America is an ongoing problem, one that needs constant attention and solutions as organizations and groups work to get people off the streets and into better situations.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, on a single given night in 2017, 553,742 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States, and approximately 65 percent were staying in emergency shelters or transitional housing program.

Homelessness increased for the first time in seven years, showing almost a one percent increase from 2016, according to the same report. So how does the nation solve homelessness? What is causing homelessness? It’s a complex issue with many layers.

Various issues leading to the problem

“Far and away, the number one cause is eviction,” said Darin Estep, vice president of community engagement for the Volunteers of America Michigan department. “There are underlying causes for eviction, but it’s usually unemployment, loss of job, or a medical condition. Almost all homeless cases result when someone does not have a support system.”

Along with the problem of eviction, drugs and alcohol can play a key role in homelessness, but another major issue is the problem of mental health.

“Some of it can be drug and alcohol related, but a great part of it is mental health issues,” said Jody Naylor, a board member for Homeless Angels, an organization based in Lansing, Mich., that provides temporary shelter for clients and helps them work toward getting back on their feet during rough patches.

“It can be people not taking their medication like they should be. A lot of our clients have mental health issues, and the other large segment is just people who have fallen on hard times and don’t know where to turn.”

One common misconception about homelessness is that it occurs during the winter months, but as both Estep and Naylor pointed out, homelessness has become such a large problem that it now has no season – it’s year round.

“It’s unfortunately a year-round problem,” Estep said. “It’s much more painful and dangerous in the winter because winter can kill you if you’re not in shelter, so it’s important to get people inside and out of the weather. But it is important to remember this problem is year-round, and we are pretty much full 365 days a year.”

Spreading the message

For organizations who provide assistance to people struggling with homelessness, aside from actually providing these services, one of the biggest tasks is making sure people in need are aware of how to get help.

For Estep and the VOA of Michigan, they work on collaborating with other agencies in the Ingham County area where they are based to ensure there is a wide web cast so people are aware they can turn to these organizations for help. This starts by word of mouth or distributing outreach cards in certain areas to spread the message.

For Naylor and Homeless Angels, they often do networking on their own, and also leave their lines open for people to contact them with issues of their own, or if they see someone struggling.

“We have a street ministry team, where there’s a team of people that actually comb the parks in Lansing and they know where a lot of homeless camps are,” Naylor said. “They work on building relationships with the homeless people in the community, because they have trust issues. Once they trust them and know that we are there to help them, that helps with bringing them in.”

Naylor and the Homeless Angels also put a lot of effort into using social media to increase their presence in the Lansing area, and receive messages on a daily basis from people in the community that will point out a person who might be sleeping in their car or in a bridge, and offer the location so the organization can go check on them.

Everyone getting involved

23032491_10155137186921647_1663434852797734851_nAt TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®, we put a heavy emphasis on giving back to each of the communities we work in, trying to make a difference in the lives of the people that reside there and making the areas a better place to live. One of our top fall campaigns – Truckload of Warmth – was specifically designed to help with the issue of homelessness, and during it, our franchises partner with organizations in their areas to help provide warm weather clothing that can be distributed at shelters during the cold months.

“We have been doing this drive for several years,” said Kara Berhow, marketing and recruiting director for the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK Des Moines, Iowa, location. “Within our community, there is a huge need for these winter wear items. We see that need in our schools and especially in the area’s refugee population. We received request for more than 12,000 items this year. Many people arrive in our city with nothing more than light clothing, and being prepared on a tight budget is a real struggle for families just trying to get started again.”

IMG_0281Berhow and the Des Moines location partnered with a local non-profit organization in the area to help with their campaigns, and also partnered with a local Chick-Fil-A restaurant to collect over 10,000 items that were distributed throughout the area.

“The campaign was incredibly successful, and it is a joy to watch it grow each year,” Berhow said. “Our teams are always thrilled to help with dropping off boxes, picking up donations, manning the ‘Fill the Truck’ events, and delivering the donations. The ability to give back is something that we celebrate here, and it is a blessing to work for a company that puts so much emphasis on philanthropy.”

How the public can get involved

Homeless organizations and companies working to use their resources to fight the issues of homelessness is great, but in order to make a true swing at ending it in certain areas, it takes the efforts of as many people as possible.

These organizations are always seeking volunteers, and they encourage people to contact them and ask for ways they can either assist with their efforts, donate, or provide resources to help the cause.

“I would say there’s three main ways to get involved,” Estop said. “One is to come and volunteer and see the people so you get a ground-level understanding of the problem. Another way is to simply come in for a tour, where we can show you around. Third is to just contribute. We take donations of cash, goods, and time. Any way people want to share with our less fortunate brothers and sisters, we are happy to facilitate that. That’s one of the main reasons we are here – to provide that opportunity.”

Candy, costumes, and creative decorations … oh my!

Trick or treat walk with my dog

Written by Katie Peterson

It’s that time of year again! Fall is upon us, and the kids are already on premature sugar rushes; it’s time for Halloween! Your kids are mentally prepared, but are you? We’ve compiled the most useful and creative things to know so you’re ready for anything this Halloween season.

Candy

Candy always seems to be a stressor on Halloween. What if you leave a bowl out and the neighborhood kids take too much? What if you run out? What if your kids eat way too much while they’re out trick-or-treating? A really great way to save yourself from worrying about candy on Halloween is to be as prepared as you can.

Buy more candy than you think you’ll need and keep the receipts! You can return whatever you don’t end up using later.

If you can’t be home to pass out candy, placing a bowl out with one of these cute reminders should help encourage the trick-or-treaters to help you ration your candy for a while:

  • Roses are red. Violets are blue. We’re out trick-or-treating just like you! Please take one treat!
  • Take a treat! But leave the rest for other boys and ghouls!
  • Trick-or-treat, smell my feet, please take just one sweet to eat!
  • Although we’re not home to give you a scare, here’s a bowl of tricks and treats, take one … if you dare!

After Halloween is over, take full advantage of the candy on sale at the stores and begin stocking up for next year (assuming the candy isn’t the type to go stale). You’ll thank yourself when the prices rise again right before the holiday.

Costumes

Costumes can cause unwanted stress without the proper preparation. With these tips in mind, your kids will be safe, and you will be stress-free.

Depending on where you live, encourage costumes for your kids that will look good while still keeping warm. For instance, a genie outfit with high heels might not work out so well on a cold night of walking. And if you can help it, you don’t want your cute costumes (and the kids inside them) to be covered up with big coats while out for the night. A good solution for making your costume warmer is to layer turtle necks and leggings of the same color underneath.

For Halloween safety, fasten reflective tape to candy bags and add it as an accent to your child’s costume. No need to go overboard with this one, but as long as your child can be seen by cars in the dark, the tape will be worth it. Another good thing to keep in mind, utilize all sidewalks or walkways to avoid walking close to traffic. Be sure to keep an eye on your little ones and have them by your side to avoid any accidents.

To avoid last-minute stress before going out, be sure your kids try on their costumes a few weeks before Halloween to double check there aren’t any last minute adjustments or accessories needed. Make sure everything fits and isn’t broken beforehand so you have extra time to rebound if you find a problem.

 

Creative decorations

One of the best parts of Halloween is the decorating, but it can also be one of the most stressful and expensive. You’ve got to round up all the boxes from the attic, untangle the lights (and end up buying more when you find all the bulbs broken), and there never seems to be enough money in the budget for all the ready-made decorations at the store. Whether you are the house on your block to “Deck the Halloween Halls” or not, we’ve gathered some of our favorite DIY decorations that might scare the kids, but certainly not your wallet or gumption to decorate.

window decorations
Photo courtesy of http://www.woohome.com

Use the light from inside your house to create window decorations:

Grab big pieces of black construction paper, colored crepe paper, and scissors, and you’ve got all you need for this creative and easy decoration hack. The light from the room behind the paper is all the illumination you need to make a big statement on your street.

Reuse milk cartons to make a lit pathway for trick-or-treaters:

milk cartons
Photo courtesy of http://www.eighteen25.com

All you’ll need for this one are milk cartons, a craft knife, sharpie marker, and lights. Draw the ghost eyes and mouth on the empty milk carton, and cut a small round hole in the back for the lights to go in. After that, you’re all set to line them up and plug the lights in! (Just make sure the plug side ends up somewhere near an outlet or extension cord).

monster door
Photo courtesy of http://www.coolmompicks.com

Make your door a monster with whatever crafts you have lying around:

The best part about this DIY is, whether you have time to go all out with spider webs and sparkles or you just slap on streamers and eyeballs, the door monster will still come to life!

Create hanging ghosts:

ghost hanging
Photo courtesy of http://www.simplydesigning.porch.com

All you need for this project are a few Styrofoam  orbs from the craft store, cheese cloth, eye-hooks, string for hanging, and black craft paint for the ghost’s eyes. Just drape the cheesecloth over the orbs after you’ve painted on the eyes and start shredding the ends. A few of the ghosts grouped and hanging on your porch or from trees makes for some cute (and cheap) Halloween decorations.

Utilizing these creative DIY’s and tips this Halloween will save you money and stress so you can focus on what really matters… enjoying the holiday, however you’ll be celebrating! Have fun this year, and remember, this is a day when too much candy is the goal, as long as the majority is saved and shared rather than eaten!

What are your favorite Halloween tips and DIY’s? We’d like to hear them! Like us on Facebook for more helpful tips and updates. TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is the first and largest franchised moving company in the United States. Let us help move you forward!

It’s time to meet the new “kids” on the block!

Some of us are not chatty, outgoing people. Walking across your yard, which may feel like a mile in the heat of the moment, to meet new people can seem overwhelming, especially with the added stress of moving and being in an unfamiliar place. Let’s be honest, even super outgoing individuals might get a little nervous to venture next door or across the street to meet their neighbors. Most likely, you’re worn out from the move and the last thing you feel like doing is putting on your best and meeting your neighbors.

Here are a few simple ways to meet your neighbors without forcing it or making things awkward.

Spend time outside. You heard it. Simply spend time. If you have kids, they could make a lemonade stand. Many people can’t resist a lemonade stand, support the children’s dreams! In most cases your fellow neighbors are curious about you and will be eager to meet you, chances are, they are nervous to meet you, too. Being outside is an easy way to run into each other, introduce yourselves, and strike up conversation.

We know you love yard work! Probably not. But hey, it’s is a great way to get settled, fix up the yard, and meet neighbors. It’s more than likely that your neighbors know there’s a new family on the block. Being outside makes it easy for them to come over and introduce themselves.

dog2Go for a walk. If it’s a nice day out, there are probably a few people outside and it would be easy to introduce yourself. Maybe while you’re out, you could invite a few neighbors over for a small get together.

Host a cook out or a cocktail party. Invite your neighbors over for food or drinks as a fun and easy way to become acquainted. Having a laid back, social setting is an easy way to mix and mingle. Plus, who is going to turn down free food and drinks?!

These tips work well if you are the new comer in a neighborhood, or if you are trying to meet your new neighbors. We hope you take advantage of these fun ideas and make the new comer on the block feel welcome. If you’re feeling ambitious, take them a meal or a dessert such as lasagna, brownies, cookies, etc. They probably haven’t unpacked from the move and may not be able to cook.

At TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® we are moving and packing experts. To stay connected and to learn additional moving and packing tips, subscribe to our blog and like us on Facebook. If you’re interested in hiring a professional moving company for your next move, check us out!

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®’s own Dapper Dad

Written by Nicole Harrison

 

We have great news! President Randy Shacka will be strutting his stuff once again at the Dapper Dads event downtown Lansing, Mich., on June 11.

Dapper Dads is a fundraising event hosted by Women Working Wonders (W3), who strive to support the physical and psychological health of women in mid-Michigan.Randy

Each year, mid-Michigan community leaders are recruited to be on the Dapper Dads and Dudes panel. The top 12 finalists are featured in the Dapper Dads calendar.

Dapper Dads consists of online voting and a fashion show in downtown Lansing. We encourage you to support Randy and help us raise money for women’s health in mid-Michigan.

“Dapper Dads is a fun event,” said TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® President and Dapper Dads contestant Randy Shacka. “What other chance do you get to dress up, walk a run way, and have a crowd to cheer you on? You get to have fun while raising awareness and money to support the Women Working Wonders volunteers, so becoming involved makes it a no brainer.”

Randy’s favorite part about participating in the Dapper Dads event is interacting with the other dads and dudes who are participating.

“It’s pretty comical seeing other business owners fighting for a spot in front of the mirror prior to going out on stage!”

This will be Randy’s third year participating in the fashion show. The past two years, he’s as able to create wonderful memories, and last year’s performance will be hard to beat!

“My favorite memory had to be last year’s event where I had the help of Ramone and Trent, two drivers from the Lansing office. They wheeled me out to the stage on a dolly and proceeded to dance and get the crowd going. It was so fun hanging out with these two while trying to keep up with their dance moves!”

Not only is Randy living the core value of “be your best and have fun”, he is also giving back to the community by supporting a great causdapper dad 2014e.

We need your support! Each vote is a $5 donation and supports the mission of women’s health. Last year Dapper Dads raised more than $325,000 and we want to beat that this year! You can vote online now until June 11.

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is the first and largest franchised moving company in the United States. If you are interested in learning more about TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® check us out on Facebook.

Movers for Moms® Photos

We’d like to say a special thank you to everyone that has helped our Movers for Moms® program by donating items for moms in need. Movers for Moms® is a community-based program seeking to make life easier for less fortunate women forced to stay in shelters on Mother’s Day. With your help we are that much closer to making Mother’s Day special for all moms in need.

Below are some great Movers for Moms® pictures we have received so far from our various TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® locations. These photos show the abundant support from schools, businesses and communities across the country. Thank you for all your help and donations!

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TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is the first and largest franchised moving company in the United States. Let us help move you forward! For more helpful tips and information on moving services subscribe to our blog and like us on Facebook.

 

Movers for Moms® 2013

Written by Claire Schneider

It’s an exciting time at TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® lately as we ramp up our Movers for Moms® program once again! We are very passionate about our Core Values and Movers for Moms® is a big part of them.

What is Movers for Moms®?Movers For Moms

Movers for Moms® is a program that was started by TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® nearly five years ago because we not only wanted to give to charity, but also be a part of the cause. Movers for Moms® is based around the communities where our franchisees are located and is focused on making life easier for less fortunate women, who are forced to stay in shelters on Mother’s Day. Our goal is to make sure their day is special as well.

“Among industrialized nations, the United States has the largest number of homeless women and children. Not since the Great Depression have so many families been without homes.”

– GreenDoors.org

More than 100 TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® locations across the country have partnered with schools to begin collecting items for mothers in need. Our TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® locations will then pick up the items and deliver them to their shelter partners just in time for Mother’s Day.

How you can help

It’s simple! All you have to do is bring your donated items to a participating TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® location near you. Typical donation items may include: soaps, hair styling products, shampoos and conditioners, pillows, blankets, slippers and basic essential items.

We will take care of the rest!

Getting kids involved 

Movers for Moms® is a great way to teach kids how important it is to give back to the communities in which we live. TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® wants to thank all the schools that are participating in the program this year. We have seen tremendous growth in the past year and now have 420 schools taking part in the program, compared to 200 last year. We could not have made this program what it is today without them!

Movers for Moms

KinderCare

We especially want to thank KinderCare for their involvement with Movers for Moms® this year. KinderCare works hard to improve the lives of children in communities where we live and work. With the expertise that comes with caring for and educating hundreds of thousands of children nationally, KinderCare has a unique understanding of child development, early childhood education, parenting and teaching. They understand the needs of children, families and communities.

If KinderCare sounds like the perfect environment for your child to grow, join KinderCare for their Open House Tuesday, April 23 and let their community show you what makes this place one of a kind. Sign up the week of 4/21 and get $100 off tuition. Their Open House provides the chance to tour their center, meet the teachers, talk with other parents and engage in family-fun activities. KinderCare Learning Centers are excited to show you their nationally recognized education program as well as the child-specific focus their teachers bring to the center. To learn more or find a location near you, please visit www.kindercare.com.

Thank you KinderCare for your support in the Movers for Moms® program!

KinderCare Open House

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is the first and largest franchised moving company in the United States. Let us help move you forward! For more helpful tips and information on moving services subscribe to our blog and like us on Facebook.

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® Gives Back to the Community

This month at TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® we have focused on our core value of giving back to the community.  Whether it’s donating a move or raising money for a good cause, we believe in supporting our communities and helping people move forward.

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® has not only seen success with the annual Movers for Moms® program, but we are excited about the $2 million worth of moving services we donated this year. There is nothing better than knowing we made a difference in the communities around us.

Franchisee Jason Judson

One of our franchise owners Jason Judson from St. Louis, Mo., said it best:


“Our community is the reason we wake up every day and come to work. If it wasn’t for our community, we would not have a thriving business and be able to employ so many great people.”

You don’t need to be a part of a big company to be able to give back to your community. Here are some great ideas of how to give back:

  • Donate clothing: One of the easiest ways to give back is to donate clothing you are no longer using. We all have those pieces of clothing pushed way back in our closet that has not seen the light of day in some time. Instead of just leaving it there to collect dust, take it to your local Salvation Army or Goodwill. Just remember to make sure they are washed before you donate them; it will be much appreciated!
  • Volunteer: Many people cringe when they hear the word volunteer, but it doesn’t have to be something boring or dirty. Instead, think of your skills and what you have to offer (we are all good at something!). If you are athletic, look into volunteering at one of your local community centers to teach kids about sports or check out your local Humane Society and see if they need someone to play with the animals or walk the dogs. If you are more on the artistic side, call a nursing home to see if they would like to have a musician come in and play music for everyone.
  • Send greetings: So many people are having a hard time and just need some cheering up. A fun and easy thing to do is to work with a shelter and make cards for the kids there. This will be an encouraging and positive moment they will remember for days to come. You could also include something small and fun like stickers with your card. There are also programs like AMillionThanks.org, which provide a simple way to just say thank you to our troops. It may seem small and simple but it means a lot to them.

These are just a couple of things you can do to get involved and support your community. Check out these great pictures from some of the charity events the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® system has recently been part of.

Clumbus Holiday Donation

Movers for Moms

Movers for Moms

Movers for Moms