by Lucy Spain
In the wake of the earthquakes in Haiti, our nation is once again haunted by a reoccurring ghost. This ghost that keeps us awake at night is the millions of faces of the homeless in Haiti as we are daily bombarded by them through the media. There are millions of mothers, fathers, and children all fighting for their lives in Haiti, but this was true before the earthquake hit. As we focus our attention on the Haiti catastrophe for the moment, I wonder why it takes a national disaster and thousands of lives to bring light to this ongoing crisis.
As a resident of New York City I know that not a single day goes by that my attention isn’t alerted to the issue of homelessness. Like many other New Yorkers I always think – “My 10 cents won’t do any good, why can’t these people go somewhere and try to get real help for the root cause of their problems?” Some of my friends will recant – “It’s not that easy,” which leads me to wonder if there are organizations out there that really do create easy and accessible assistance.
This leads me to WIN (Women In Need). Women In Need is an organization that has provided assistance to the homeless since 1983. Upon first glance, I was astonished by the multi-faceted categories of help that WIN envelops. WIN helps people in the areas of alcohol/substance abuse and treatment, obtaining GED or ESL certificates, securing employment, HIV prevention, on-site child care, and housing to name a few. They offer two housing options, transitional and permanent, depending on individual situations. There are housing locations through out New York City in Manhattan, Bronx, and Brooklyn.
So back to the original obstacle; is it easy? After my research, I can say that yes, this organization is making it as straightforward as possible to help those in need. There is assistance on-site at WIN. First, the interested person or family must go through PATH (Prevention Assistance and Temporary Housing); which is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays. If the applicant can obtain shelter eligibility (which is available to both families and single adults) they will be joined with an organization like WIN.
The government may not be able to provide immediate help, but we need to let these people know that they can help themselves. They are their best advocate and enabler of getting themselves and their family off the streets. Clearly the homeless do not have access to our most popular forms of media - television, phones, and the internet. So it us our job to make sure this information is accessible and available to those in need.
This is my plea to you: After reading this, please do what you can to spread the word about WIN to the people who need it most. Instead of dropping a coin into a toboggan or guitar case, drop these numbers: WIN – 212-695-4758, PATH – 800-994-6494.
Please remember to focus on your direct community and those around you. Looking Glass Theatre makes this a priority and you can too by attending our upcoming V-Day New York City 2010 benefit performance of A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer on February 12th and 13th. Proceeds will go to benefit WIN here in New York City and York Street Project in Jersey City, New Jersey.
For more information please visit our web site at http://www.lookingglasstheatrenyc.com/