Yesterday marked the start of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week; I could not think of a better way to enter the holiday season. While many of us gather together to celebrate with family, it can be easy to forget about those people who are not as fortunate. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, 46.7 million people in the United States are living below the poverty line and 49 million are at risk of suffering from hunger. Your neighbor, coworker, your child's best friend at school, or even their teacher could be suffering from hunger. Homelessness and hunger do not discriminate. 

Since homelessness and hunger often come hand-in-hand, we recently entered into a partnership with Food for Free, whose mission is to bridge the gap between waste and want by rescuing fresh food and distributing it to emergency food programs and individuals in need. Thanks to this new partnership, Food for Free will be donating frozen meals, which will be given to every new family entering into Hildebrand. While we boast about the number of families who've successfully moved out of Shelter, twenty-seven (27) since the start of the fiscal year, a new family enters into shelter for every family that moves out. Last fiscal year, 219 unique families were living in shelter at Hildebrand, these families were comprised of 265 adults and 388 children. Even the families who live in shelter can forget that after they move on, another family replaces them.

In June, Nilaya Montalvo from Homes for Families came to Hildebrand to facilitate a workshop on Advocacy. Sixteen (16) parents attended the workshop, discussed the stigma of homelessness, and discovered the different avenues to advocacy. One of the biggest takeaways from that workshop was to be a voice, an advocate, for other people experiencing homelessness - what better way to incite change.

Homelessness is not a choice; it can be a traumatizing and polarizing experience. However, as we enter the holiday season, we try to bring a level of normalcy and stability into the lives of the families we serve. And we could not do it without the graciousness and support of our charitable donors. Next week, members from the Board of Directors and staff will be out delivering turkeys and the fixings, generously donated by the East End House and a private donor, to 85 families for Thanksgiving. That is over a 280% increase from last year.

In December, volunteers from Harpoon Brewery will be returning to decorate the 5 congregate living programs in Cambridge and Dorchester with Christmas cheer! The holidays can be especially difficult for families experiencing homelessness. Unfortunately, many children miss out on the magic of the holiday season because their parents must prioritize their spending on essentials like food, transportation, and clothing. But fortunately, over 300 children, who have all been matched with donors, will receive presents wrapped by their parents on Christmas this year. We are so fortunate for the continued support of our holiday donors who make it possible to continue providing holiday cheer to our families, even as our numbers grow.

Want to make a difference in the lives of people experiencing homelessness? Here are some ways you can help: