As August draws to a close, the Real Change campaign will also wind down for the fall. We’ve learned a lot this last month about the compassion of downtown workers and residents. In asking individuals to not give to panhandlers we’re able to focus on how saying no to panhandling is saying yes to a positive future. Here are a few examples from activities of our partner nonprofits and efforts of the Mayor’s Taskforce on Urban Environment to highlight the good that real change can accomplish.

Real change is

YouthREACH | Staff target older youth ages 18 to 24 who are experiencing the most significant barriers including struggling with untreated mental health issues and or drug and alcohol abuse. YouthREACH is able to provide a part time mental health counselor/case manager to meet the needs of untreated behavioral health. In addition a work readiness case manager from the Next Generation Zone will offer classes in pre-employment skills and continue to work with youth through the process of gaining skills and employment.

SOAR | For individuals to exit homelessness permanently, they need income, housing, medical and other support services. SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) is a national project that is designed to increase access to SSI/SSDI for eligible adults who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and have a mental illness and/or a co-occurring substance use disorder. Using a 3-pronged approach of Strategic Planning, Training, and Technical Assistance (TA), the SOAR TA Center coordinates this effort at the state and community level.

A home and a future | As a compassionate city there are multiple organizations that exist to serve the homeless and the helpless. Through housing assistance, job training, or simply providing an overnight stay and a warm meal, the resources for improving the lives of those who are willing to make an effort are multiple. You can give your money, time or talents to help these organizations help others.

Here’s a short list of suggestions for you to get started, choose your own favorite charity, or visit the Crowdswell page to donate and assist the Mayor’s taskforce fund the initiatives mentioned above.

A long term investment | Sometimes the short term solution is easier, a handout to make you feel better, but change takes time and effort and can sometimes be a frustrating process. Get to know those who are asking for help, make an investment in them by helping them find a place where they are challenged, lifted up and made to feel whole again.

Ultimately, real change is up to you.