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ATS members, please help me help others

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posted on Sep, 4 2006 @ 01:21 PM
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Ok, so I guess I will begin with the old standby “I don’t know if this is the right forum for this.”

My wife and I are thinking about opening a rehabilitation center primarily for the homeless, and need the help of the superior intellect that resides at ATS.

What we want to do is rent a house or apartment in the worst area of town, the area with the highest homeless population. We will have, during certain hours (we still have to work), computers available for job searches, as well as offer instruction on computer literacy. I will assist in resume writing and the filling out of job applications. We will allow people to shower and wash clothing so they can be presentable for a job until they can get a place of their own.

Hopefully we will be able to offer some minimal level of staffing service if we can manage to develop enough trust with local businesses, probably mostly for construction companies.

We are going to try and get local restaurants and grocery stores to make donations so that we can offer nourishment, but there will always be at a minimum coffee, water and sandwiches.

It would also be great if I could get a few doctors, maybe a shrink or two, or even medical students to volunteer their time.

We want to eventually offer the types of rehabilitating help you just cant get from a shelter, however we will probably never become a shelter. There will be no sleeping on the premises. We want to help people start a new life, get their own place, not just provide a bed. We want to teach them to fish.

On Saturday evenings we will offer a worship service and bible study, however this WILL NEVER be mandatory to receive help. It won’t even be pushed, just available.

I was thinking about “refresher” courses on reading and writing, maybe English as a second language classes, but I may be getting over my head with that. Like I mentioned, I still have to work a job. Although it sure would be great if I could do this full time, I am just not in the right financial position to quit working.

Any ideas from ATS members who may have experience in this area? Are there any laws I need to worry about? They have been passing a lot of regulation here in Las Vegas about feeding the homeless in public places (not that I care, I still do it.)

How about becoming a non-profit corporation? Is there any reason I should do that?

I really dont know what I am doing, but i feel inspired to do this, so I am making a leap.

I really want this to work, so any input would be greatly appreciated. And if any of you in Las Vegas want to be involved, I am sure I will need some help.




posted on Sep, 4 2006 @ 01:26 PM
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The first thing that would be in order would be a trip to city hall and look at the laws, by-laws and the such to see if it's viable. Also zoning laws. This is a noble idea, I wish you well with it. Get the burocracy out of the way first imo.



posted on Sep, 4 2006 @ 01:41 PM
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Thanks intrepid. Do you think administrators of local shelters would help figure out the legalities of it? Or maybe I can get a lawyer to do some pro-bono work?

The way I figured, if I had a friend that was down on his luck and needed a place to shower and wash clothing for a job interview, it wouldn’t be illegal to let him do so at my home, provided I was within my rental agreement (I am sure I will be renting at first.) So with that in mind, how does it differ if my friend that needs help is someone I know well or a couple of hundred (I hope I can help more) people that I just hadn’t been introduced to yet?

Oh, just had a thought. I think I will probably need to get a food server license, maybe health department inspections too, if I plan on offering food (and I do).



posted on Sep, 4 2006 @ 01:47 PM
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Originally posted by cavscout
Thanks intrepid. Do you think administrators of local shelters would help figure out the legalities of it? Or maybe I can get a lawyer to do some pro-bono work?



Oh, just had a thought. I think I will probably need to get a food server license, maybe health department inspections too, if I plan on offering food (and I do).


If it's feasable a lawyer would be a must, maybe we have one here that can give you a basic guideline.

I would bet my last dollar that you would need a licence for food, maybe more than that. Again, the lawyer.

Another thing, you'll be wanting to think about security BIG TIME. There are those that don't care how magnanamous you are, they just see their next score. Sadly, that can be even those you are trying to help out.



posted on Sep, 4 2006 @ 02:04 PM
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Zoning will be your first issue. You will most likely not find a residential district that will allow the type of operation you describe, so your choices of realty will be limited to areas that do. In the end, that shouldn't be much of a problem as I can't envision you wanting the "facility" in a place where the homeless are not.

Doing all you describe could potentially become quite expensive. I'd suggest a real business plan, paying careful attention to ALL of the expenses you will incur in the first year of operation. If you're not quite sure what an expense might be, do your homework until you do...or you may find later that all of your hard work is for nothing. Planning for expense is always much easier than reacting to expense...

Definitely incorporate as a non-profit organization. There are a billion resources on the net to help you learn to do this. If you aren't a nonprofit organization, donors wont be able to deduct their donations to you from their taxes. That can discourage corporate giving in a big way.

Corporate donations are fairly easy to get, but you have to remember that it's a lot easier if the corporate donor sees an opportunity to "advertise" its goodwill to the public. I'd think one way to engineer such a situation would be to approach businesses who will ask consumers to "donate" some amount above their purchase to your organization. Places that offer ticket sales would be great for this...not just the traditional bricks and mortar retailers. Just remember that your "cause" should be sexy to the business type you are soliciting. But don't let that be a bar to who you approach either.

Be creative. For example, contact a reporter from the local media. Tell them what you are trying to do. Have them write about it, including the "marque" donors who are helping with the project. (This is a lot easier than you think. Small publications and even large ones are always looking for public interest stories.) Now approach those potential "marque" donors and convince them to "donate" to your cause with the promise of media exposure.

Not the most comprehensive advice, but I hope that helps just a little.



[edit on 4-9-2006 by loam]



posted on Sep, 4 2006 @ 02:06 PM
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Originally posted by intrepid
Another thing, you'll be wanting to think about security BIG TIME. There are those that don't care how magnanamous you are, they just see their next score. Sadly, that can be even those you are trying to help out.


Trust me, that was one of the first things on my mind. After all, my wife and children will be there.

Just a little background on me, I was Director of Activities for a local security company, tactical advisor to a police department, worked on the executive protection team of one of the 20 richest men in the world and my wife has armed security experience at a local casino (downtown where we will be doing this) as well as working as one of my officers when I was the LT of housing authority for the Moulin Rouge, a burned down casino turned housing project. I have held a Clark County Armed Security work card for the last 7 years.

I totally have the security side covered. We (my wife and I) will be armed. At first I cringed at the thought of helping this people with a side arm in my belt, but I see no other way. Also, it would be wholly irresponsible of me to not be able to protect those who come to me for help at "my house" from violence.

Thank you so much for all your input intrepid. I don’t expect I will be getting very many people responding (and I understand this is not a conspiracy topic, so that wont hurt my feelings), but I hope some of the other bright minds on ATS will be able to help me like you are.



posted on Sep, 4 2006 @ 02:06 PM
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You're going to be taking on a lot of responsibilty by attempting this and you will need legal counsel, as well as the blessing of City Hall.

I had the honor of working for the Ozanam Inn in New Orleans for a year and a half after graduating from Social Work school in 1995.

I'm sure that someone there would be willing to share some knowledge and advice with you.

By browsing this Google Search, you will find some of the problems related to "helping the homeless."

Camp and Julia Coalition

Camp and Julia Coalition 2

Indy Media

[edit on 2006/9/4 by GradyPhilpott]



posted on Sep, 4 2006 @ 02:17 PM
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Originally posted by cavscout

I totally have the security side covered. We (my wife and I) will be armed. At first I cringed at the thought of helping this people with a side arm in my belt, but I see no other way. Also, it would be wholly irresponsible of me to not be able to protect those who come to me for help at "my house" from violence.



This is a very bad idea. I think you would do well to spend some time working in existing shelters before embarking on this idea so that you are familiar with the population you will be serving.



posted on Sep, 4 2006 @ 02:21 PM
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Loam, you have given me some great ideas, I knew you would.

I never even thought about asking retailers to solicit donations from customers. Actually, I haven’t really given much thought to money at all, other than paying the rent and keeping the lights on. I just figured I could get people to donate old computers, silverware, towels and maybe some soap and shampoo. I am starting see how much this may end up costing, however.

The media is a great idea. I can just see getting on the news and help pouring in. Las Vegas may be sin city, but whenever the news covers people in need, the community responds.

My wife just called me and said that one of her friends who manages a local grocery store said if we incorporate we can fill up bags of food items we need and ask people to anonymously purchase those bags and leave them at the register for us.

I am starting to get scared that I am getting in over my head. What if I get people on board and then fail?



posted on Sep, 4 2006 @ 02:25 PM
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Originally posted by GradyPhilpott
I think you would do well to spend some time working in existing shelters before embarking on this idea so that you are familiar with the population you will be serving.


Cav, this is the best advice yet. There's no better tutor than experience.



posted on Sep, 4 2006 @ 02:28 PM
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Originally posted by GradyPhilpott
This is a very bad idea. I think you would do well to spend some time working in existing shelters before embarking on this idea so that you are familiar with the population you will be serving.


Thanks for the advice and links Grady. I am going to talk with some of the security companies that work for the shelters and see if I can spend a weekend doing voulunteer work with their officers.



posted on Sep, 4 2006 @ 03:02 PM
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What an incredible project Cav!
I wish I were in Vegas so I could help out.

You are undertaking such a large project. There will be times when it gets discouraging, but I hope that you do not give up.

It's great to see that there are still people out there who will stand up for those less fortune who need help.



posted on Sep, 4 2006 @ 03:25 PM
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Originally posted by GradyPhilpott
I think you would do well to spend some time working in existing shelters before embarking on this idea so that you are familiar with the population you will be serving.


In addition to familiarizing yourself with the people you will be serving, you could also familiarize yourself with the way others are helping the homeless. Learn from those who are already successfully doing what you wish to do.



posted on Sep, 4 2006 @ 04:34 PM
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Originally posted by cavscout
What if I get people on board and then fail?


It happens.

But what if you get a little luck with all your hard work and succeed?



posted on Sep, 4 2006 @ 04:37 PM
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BTW, forgot to mention something. Instead of starting up from scratch, you could always affiliate yourself with an existing organization and setup "shop" under their name.

An affiliation is a great way of learning from others and following a preexisting formula. If you don't like the idea, you should still explore the option, as it will help you tremendously in your own endeavor by identifying stuff you might not have thought about.

Just a thought.



[edit on 4-9-2006 by loam]



posted on Sep, 6 2006 @ 03:01 PM
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Most social service agencies are nonprofit. This means that the people who work for them don't make much money, and so, are there because they want to help less fortunate folks. What this means is that, if you call on some of these non-profits and introduce yourself, there is usually someone there who can help you out regarding referrals, lawyers, etc. and as someone else said, may even offer to help you out with your program. I would advise talking to the CEO of some non-profits. Don't forget the drug rehab centers, too, they often work with homeless and may have some clients for you. Also, you will need to network with them since you will probably need referrals for people who have such issues and it's good to have the good opinion of the whole homeless/drug rehab, etc. social services community, it really is pretty small and word gets around alot. So if you can get yourself known with a good reputation, that will help you alot. You may also want to let the police dept. know what you are doing. They love to hear about things first so they know what to expect and they can be very helpful to your agency, i.e. folks on probation may need your services. You could also have fundraisers, I mean you've got alot of talent in Las Vegas! I'm sure some of the celebs who live there would be happy to help out with a fundraiser.
You may well be eligible for grants as well and that would help you alot, even if it's $5,000 a month. And after people have been helped by your agency, the "graduates" may well wish to come back and volunteer time, services or even donate.

One thing to be aware of though: Usually, the people who live near such a homeless center, will fight like the devil to keep your project out of their neighborhood, yeah, even in poor neighborhoods.

Having a list of resources and referrals is an excellent thing. You will need that for folks who need career counseling, job referrals, training, drug rehab, etc. And don't forget volunteers, they can help alot, too. Good luck to you and let us know how it goes. If I were in Vegas, I'd help you out, too. Bless you for doing this.



posted on Jun, 24 2007 @ 11:43 PM
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OK, so been a while since I started this thread.

Just an update on what I am doing.

I took the advice given on this thread and have volunteered at several shelters and kitchens. What I noticed is that a very large percentage of the homeless seem to be military vets, many of them actually combat vets. This of course was very disturbing to me, a combat vet who has been homeless and was near to giving up after returning from the war.

What I have embarked upon is a mission to major dent in this area of homelessness. After sitting down with many homeless vets what I have realized is that the loss of comraderie after separation from the service seems to be a major factor in the deteriorating condition of these individuals. I know the feeling well; when I returned from Iraq in April of 2004 I did have a very hard time adjusting to being back. After my separation from the Army in December of the same year, my life began to fall apart. Gone were the morning formations, the inspections, the marching around, all the things I hated while in the service but were defining features of my life. We all change in basic, and we change even more in combat, and that change is with us always. Adaptation is hard after you have been broken down in basic and turned into something the rest of society is not.

The worst part of separation from the service after combat is the lack of companions that have "been there done that." Even if you hate the people you serve with, you have an unspoken bond with them and are generally comfortable around each other. Then you are ripped from that and thrown into a world you were once forced to separate yourself from. It can be lonely, scary, and confusing.

They send us off to kill for them, to do the dirty sins they will not, and then theydiscard us to the curb with nothing left to us but bad memories, haunted day and night by the specters of horrors we have been involved in.

I fully believe that without a family to return to I would be one of those homeless vets myself. Without responsibility to my wife and children, I would have had no desire to rejoin society.

I was dead inside, and I almost didnt make it.

So, this is where my experience combined with a desire to help the homeless has led me:

I will start a non-profit to house and employ only homeless veterans.

We will have structure, like the military. This means uniforms, "barracks inspections," a chow hall we all eat at together, morning formations, ect.

All will be paid a fair salary and be provided with shelter, food, and uniforms.

All will work.

School, if that is what an individual prefers, will be considered work and will be paid for. Vets will also be paid a salary while in rehab if they come to me with substance abuse problems they want to kick.

The non-profit will receive at least 50% of its funding from "capitalist" ventures. We will perform general labor, construction cleanup, landscaping, security, janitorial services, even pooper-scooper services.

If we run out of paying clients, we will perform community service activities. We will mow the lawns of deployed soldiers, pick up liter in parks. I will find some way for each person I help to help someone else. Even a vet with no legs can answer phones at the animal shelter.

I will admit that I am scared. Fear is the greatest obstacle to most of us achieving our goals. What if I cant do it? What if I cant feed my own family because I am trying to help strangers? What if, what if, what if!

I am gonna find out "what if."

I am going to do this, and it will work.

The way to do it is to "just do it" (thanks Nike for that gem.)

So I am going to just do it. I have a meeting with a business consultant I know who is going to help me set up a non-profit.

Wish me luck!



[edit on 24-6-2007 by cavscout]



posted on Jun, 25 2007 @ 02:15 PM
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I would like to hear anyone’s ideas on the kinds of activities and structure that may help to wake these heroes up, bring back their sense of dignity and belonging.

All are welcome to reply, but I am really looking for the input of other vets.
Most of us know that separation anxiety feeling to a small degree, what can I do to fix a major case of it?



posted on Jun, 25 2007 @ 09:14 PM
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Cav,

What an awesome idea. I wish you luck and success. When I make care packages for deployed soldiers I ask local hotels for donations of individual bottles of shampoo and bars of soap. Those might be helpful for you. Asking for volunteers is also a great way of getting helping hands. Have you considered that some of the vets could train animals such as seeing eye dogs? Washington State started that program for women inmates and it has really turned some of them around. Working with animals seems to help. You might also see if you have an Egala program in your area for any vets that need counseling. It is equine assited theraphy that has been very successful. If you want more information U2U me and I will get you some.

Best of luck you and your family are in my prayers.



posted on Jun, 25 2007 @ 09:28 PM
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The first thing you need to do is start contacting your local churches. They love this kind of stuff. Home grown community action they can contribute to and raise money for.

You have to have a plan though. You can't just walk in and say, this is a dream I have, You have to have a solid plan that they can back and sell to their curch members.

It will work.

I know this because a lady in my hometown of Fayetteville had the same dream. She wanted to open a homeless shelter for those that were down to get back on their feet. She named it Seven Hills. She had a plan and all the local churches came thru for her.

They bought her a run down building and she let several local homeless folks stay there while they fixed it up. When it was ready to go she kicked them to the curb and opened the day facility.

No one stays there at night, but during the day she provides computers, classes, clothes, bus tickets, etc, etc, etc.....it really took off.

She now owns Seven Hills real estate.....I don't want to put her down though cause I'm really not sure whats going on with that.

Build it and they will come.

Do research, put together a solid plan, and hit the local churches for fund raisers. You won't go wrong.

Good luck my friend, I hope you succeed beyond your wildest dreams.

wupy





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