This week, we were grateful to be able to join them as they went out to gift the donated items to people without homes on the corner of Owens and LV Blvd.
SURJ members and friends of members were able to donate 7 large blue Ikea bags and three 13-gallon bags of clothing, toiletries, food, backpacks, and blankets. In addition to our donations, several other people and organizations brought their own items, cases of water, and hamburgers to distribute. Additionally, our members donated several hundred dollars to the gofundme for the program. I’m not listing our contribution to brag, but to illustrate how desperately needed your donations were and to stress how important it is that we continue to support this effort.
At the end of the day, there was only a bag and a half of items remaining. The blankets, backpacks, tampons, and razors seemed particularly well-received. Almost all of the items we brought were claimed. There is an ongoing need for this kind of service in community.
There are a couple of things I love about this project, and I wanted to take a minute to share them with you. I’ve been without a home myself, so I think I offer maybe a wider perspective here than some.
I love that this program does not use the word “homeless” to describe the people they are serving in the community. Homeless is a temporary situation, not a descriptor for a person. Min. Stretch uses the phrase “people without homes” to put the person before the situation. They are serving people, first and foremost and regardless of any temporary situation.
I love that the program focuses on being in community with others. As people, we serve one another. This isn’t something that they do because of saviorism, or to gain recognition, but something that they do because we are all one human community and that means that our destiny is all tied together.
I love that this program is not police-based. I see police officers harassing people every single day in the neighborhood I work in. I also see police harass people who want to provide direct assistance or service to people without homes. I don’t know that I would never trust any program that was run by police officers to help people once a month that they harass the other 29 days.
I also love that this program has no religious buy-in for offering assistance. There was a group there handing out religious tracts with cans of coke and bottles of water, and I hate the idea that people have to beholden to someone or something – even if it’s just an idea – to have access to food or water or other basic human needs.
Minister Stretch made a great video about his thoughts on this project. You can watch it here.
Lastly, I just wanted to say that we live in a city of vast amounts of wealth and luxury. There is no reason we should have a tent city a couple of blocks from casinos where people can win or lose a million dollars in a single roll of dice or spin of a wheel. There’s no reason this should happen anywhere, but most especially not here in Las Vegas. We can do better, friends. We have to do better.
If you’d like information on how you can help, please contact All Shades United through the messaging function on their Facebook page.
Co-Membership Lead, SURJ LV