There' always an uncomfortable line between homelessness and a community's economic vibrancy. It's not that business owners don't care about the homeless. Saratoga's Code Blue totally disproved that myth; without the generosity of our local businesses 83 people would have been forced to spend 85 nights on the street in frigid temperatures last winter alone. Instead businesses like Longfellows and the Old Bryan Inn provided meals and Cudney's laundered bedding and afforded the guests the ability to launder their clothing. It's not their mission, but these businesses saved lives this winter.
But street homelessness can also detract from a safe and vibrant business district...and those very caring business owners find their customers aren't walking through their doors. The solution isn't simply charity for those in need. It's investing in programs that help homeless persons to find the way past their struggles; first by providing humanitarian aid for basic needs, but moving past that to provide support and accountability as they work toward a better life. This may sound simple and naive, but everyday local nonprofits like Shelters of Saratoga, CAPTAIN, EOC and Wellspring achieve these outcomes and help people attain personal dreams.
This video set in a corporate boardroom demonstrates that when businesses and nonprofits work together toward solutions they can create powerful change... that's mutually beneficial. I loved watching the tense, fearful expressions on the business persons transform into radiant hope as homelessness was humanized with just one surprising story. We often don't think about what a thin curtain divides 'us' and 'them' until someone opens the curtain and let's the light shine on us.