For many Americans the holidays are spent decorating, stringing lights, and spending time with friends and family from the comfort of a heated home. Others may spend it in a shelter where volunteers and organizations donate and serve a hot meal and can offer warm clothes. Then there are those who spend their holidays on the streets, performing or asking for money from people passing by. And yet, in rural parts of our county where they do not have easy access to a shelter, warming center, or even a warm meal, many will find themselves sleeping outside under the stars.
Just in East Tennessee there are roughly 800 Americans, in 12 county-county region, who will spend their holidays sleeping in the woods, abandoned buildings, or their car, with no plumbing or electricity.
These are the individuals and families that the Tennessee Valley Coalition for the Homeless diligently work to help. Through street outreach and our homeless assistance hotline we meet these Americans where they’re at. Through generous donations and federal grants, we are able to hand deliver hygiene bags and speak to individuals who are homeless or precariously housed about the opportunity to once again have a roof over their head, a physical address which allows them to apply for social security, VA benefits, and other assistance programs. We believe that the first step to making homelessness rare in rural East Tennessee, is to provide a personal professional relationship to individuals who are ready to make a change in their lives.
This year the Tennessee Valley Coalition for the Homeless has set a goal of putting together 365 bags for rural Americans who are experiencing extreme homelessness. These bags will include nonperishable food and drinks, warm clothing, tools to cook outside, and could hold the holiday miracle people need! We believe everyone should feel special on the holidays, and that’s what we plan to do. Will you be a part of it?