January 17, 2020

Yes to socks and aspirin, but keep the protein bars. LA reporter asks homeless folks what they need.

Here are three stories about the power of conversations to create renewal to inspire you as you head into the weekend.

A Los Angeles Times reporter wanted to hear directly from people who are living on the street to ask them what they really needed, and what they didn't. Some of the answers may make you rethink how you give. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Each week, The Renewal Project shares three stories from around the country that highlight the innovative solutions people are creating in their communities. This week we’re looking at the power conversations have to bring people together. What are the innovative ideas in your hometown? Tell us at info@therenewalproject.com.

Just ask: What’s the best way to help someone experiencing homelessness? You could read endless articles about the homeless crisis, or you could actually ask someone who’s going through it themselves. Nita Lelyveld, the city beat columnist for the Los Angeles Times hit the street to do just that. From Van Nuys to Laurel Canyon, Lelyveld connected with a few of the estimated 59,000 homeless people living in Los Angeles County. Through her conversations she gained new insights into what items people should donate.

“A lot of us have trouble with our teeth. We need aspirin,” Shannon Soole told Lelyveld. The reporter also discovered what people should not hand out, including protein bars with nuts, as those can be hard on the teeth, and large quantities of perishable food that will likely spoil. “They used to be unknown to me, just those giant, flashing numbers. Now they’re people I can talk to and listen to and learn from and try to help,” writes Lelyveld.

Read the full story from the Los Angeles Times.

Read more about what homeless shelters really need.

Here’s one more idea to steal that could be a powerful way to help homeless individuals in your town.

Tips for talking green: As Australia fights massive wildfires, a recent report shows that 2019 registered the warmest ocean temperatures in recorded human history. Instead of avoiding this difficult topic with your kids, there is a way to talk openly and honestly about the issues, Good Housekeeping argues. The magazine recommends providing kids with the chance to ask questions and showing them steps they can take to make a difference. Climate journalist Sara Peach recommends NASA’s Climate Kids website as a resource parents can use to talk about these difficult issues.

Tell me a story: Every child deserves to hear their parents read them a bedtime story. The Storybook Project of Arkansas created a program that gives incarcerated parents a new way to connect with their children. Volunteers bring books and recording equipment into correctional facilities and program participants can record themselves reading a book for their loved ones. The audio is then sent to their families. In 2019, the nonprofit sent stories to 1,793 children all across the country. “It’s such a reassuring and loving message about how much they’re cared for and missed even though the person is physically absent from their lives,” Denise Chai, the director of outreach for The Storybook Project of Arkansas, told NationSwell.

The Renewal Project

The Renewal Project, made possible by Allstate, tells the stories of individuals and organizations who are solving problems in their communities.
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