Atlanta–How do you help people who need help the most? It is a vexing question for those who want to do something for Atlanta’s homeless men and women.
But now- – -there is a program called “Streets To Home” with Metro Atlanta’s United Way and the Regional Commission on Homelessness making a difference.
11Alive reporter Jeff Hullinger was out on the streets with those in action.
5am inside the United Way’s headquarters in downtown Atlanta recently was a hub of activity for volunteers looking to help. Men and women preparing for an outreach program.
“The work we do today is really important,” said Protip Biswas, Executive Director of the Homeless Commission, “It’s important because we are trying to reach out to the most difficult to reach out.”
The volunteers who gathered will try and convince homeless people sleeping outside near Underground Atlanta to change their lives and move to transitional housing .
Among those helping is Guy Millner- – one of the most successful businessmen in state history.
Mr. Millner also ran for Governor and the U.S. Senate in the 1990’s.
“It’s great, It’s 5am and this crowd goes out twice a month and helps bring in people into a regular life,” added the CEO of Assurance America.
But convincing those in need that credible help is available is not as easy as it seems.
Many are suspicious of change and that is why the volunteers matter so much says Atlanta’s United Way President Milton Little,
“To get up at 5am, to talk to strangers who are out on the street, sleeping in parks and sleeping on steps and try to convince them to get in a warm bed and begin their lives takes alot of energy and hope,” said Mr. Little.
On the morning of the outreach hope lives but not without obstacle, The Shrine of the Immaculate Concepcion near Underground Atlanta predates the American Civil war.
It is there the homeless sleep on steps, sidewalks and on grates, all waiting for sunrise and a free breakfast.
Volunteers were able to convince 17 homeless people to get in a bus for a better place than a church step or a sidewalk. Of that group, the program expects to help 12 stay off the street permanently.
A noble idea where success is defined by a full bus into the Atlanta sunrise.
“That’s the message- – we take people, we move them into beds and 80 per cent of them stay on,” said Mr. Baswis.