By Imani Tinter
With the kickoff of Super Bowl 50 looming, I’m already celebrating my own victory. For the past two months, between my college graduation and starting a full-time job, I created a working database of homeless shelters throughout the United States with I Support the Girls.
My internship changed my perspective on what is typically a day of wings and beer indulgence. When I joined the I Support the Girls team as an intern, I sprung to the offensive in a game that was being played. Initially, I noticed that many homeless shelters are outreaches of churches, but I also found Muslim organizations and Jewish outreach charities. The religious programs often featured a kitchen, counseling, and housing for those in need, with little or no stipulations. Many are social service organizations that help individuals or families through comprehensive programs and services.
I also discovered that there are homeless shelter “corporations” such as the Salvation Army, that not only have footholds in large cities such as New York City, but also in smaller cities such as Parkersburg, WV. These groups are large and widespread, but also offer diverse services. They are very well established, funded, and organized—helping not only the homeless, but also battered women, impoverished families, and addicts.
Each was not simply, as I pictured before this endeavor, a half-way house or overnight hostel where those who need it could sleep and eat. In fact, that there are a variety of shelters that offer a blitz of programming. Many other shelters include soup kitchens, outreach programs, or targeted counseling. Some cater to certain demographics, such as women’s only shelters, family shelters, men’s only, immigrants only, or only for recovering addicts.
The game plan was mixed throughout the rest of the country. I saw many public and private, small and big groups offering a variety of aid. There were unique community-based shelters. I found non-profits run by schools or the town. Most fascinating to me was one place, in which a woman living in a large house opens her doors and spare rooms to those in need.
As the clock wound down, my internship with I Support the Girls was truly an uplifting experience. I am pushing for more awareness on homeless shelters about the resources they provide and simultaneously still need. Creating the spreadsheet from scratch was a challenge, I feel it will ultimately benefit not only Support the Girls, but anyone who wishes to find promote shelters.
As I celebrate this Sunday, I fondly recall charitable souls who help their fellow human being. I Support the Girls relies on teamwork. When you Support the Girls, everyone can score a touchdown!