Homeless Assistance in Seattle: A Step Further Towards Volunteerism

Posted on April 20, 2012 in Volunteerism

By Carrie Williams:

Vine Maple Place is a homeless shelter for single parents in the Seattle area. The organization takes care of donation distribution, children’s character building activities and provides transitional housing at affordable prices. The home provides jobs to volunteers, one of whom quotes that the experience of volunteering has blessed her with the experience of God. Volunteers hold programs and classes that allow residents to increase their employability and give them motivation to work full or part time. The volunteers offer to teach classes, be mentors to young boys and girls, as well as to the mothers of these children, who are generally single women.

The organization started after several Christian churches in the area came together to refurbish some run down apartments. The apartments are now made into affordable housing, furnished with donated furniture. The shelter is currently adding three more apartments. Volunteers are often retired therapists who became mentors for the young people that live in the shelter. Other jobs of volunteers are fence building, organizing the offices, and setting up classes and events. There are now over twenty churches who contribute. It’s great to see people helping others in small ways, by volunteering their time and showing concern for the less fortunate members of the community. It is important for one to open one’s heart to a stranger.

Residents must go through an application process because there isn’t enough room to accommodate everyone. The shelter is for battered women, which is just another term for abused women. Almost 90% of the homeless who apply here are victims of assault and domestic violence. Symptoms often include the women developing fear and a perceived inability to escape. It is a form of post traumatic stress disorder. It is predicted that 1 to 2 million women each year are beaten by their husbands in the United States. These women are often difficult to work with, because they believe they deserve the beatings and have trouble talking about their situation. However, one employee mentions that it is up to the individuals to decide how much help they want to receive; the activity of the organization is not just giving handouts. Homelessness is a serious issue because not many are interested in helping. I also believe that the women need to first want to change and only then can others help them. Often the victims of abuse don’t have their families to help and go to these apparent strangers at the shelters for assistance.

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