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President's Blog

This Holiday Season, Pledge Your Hope Locally

By Jean-Michel Giraud
President & CEO, Friendship Place
Huffington Post Blogger

Read this on the Huffington Post website

This year has been filled with so many different events. Some have been wonderful like the progress we’ve made toward ending homelessness in our country and some completely disheartening like the events in Paris.

It’s impossible to make sense out of the news these days, because we have a feeling that we cannot impact on such matters directly. Things happen too far away and out of our control.

But, changing the world can start locally.

One thing we can all do is get involved at the local level to help build the future we envision for our community and the world beyond. And we can do this, starting today.

First, let’s all pledge that our vision is of a nation where everybody has a place to call home. We can absolutely make this happen; we have already made significant progress in this area as a nation this year.

Houston and New Orleans have ended veteran homelessness, as has the Commonwealth of Virginia. And, in their wake, many other cities and counties have declared that they will reach functional zero by the end of the year.

The nation’s capital is among them. And, I have to say that it’s an incredible feeling to be this close to the goal, thanks to the very hard work and resources from advocates, service providers, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the White House.

Let’s also pledge that everybody in our nation will have enough to eat and that we will fight poverty ruthlessly.

At this point, many children around the country live in deep poverty and food insecurity. Sadly, this is the case right here in Washington, DC.

Each one of us can pledge to do something about this. Bring food to a collection center. Offer to cook meals or volunteer in a soup kitchen. Take an extra bag of groceries to older neighbors in need.

For the long-term, let’s make sure that local governments put food assistance and housing at the top of their budget priorities.

That is, they should start with food assistance and housing and work the budgets down from there, instead of squeezing not quite sufficient funds in at the end.

This idea actually came from DC Mayor Muriel Bowser herself at a meeting I attended last week. She pledged to put the 45 million dollars the city needs for housing at the top of the budget. What a great idea!

If we put it at the top of the budget and write it in stone, nobody can chip away at it.

We love this way to look at processes in DC now. This new brand of proactive support goes right for solutions and does not rest until the job is done.

While we’re at it, let’s pledge that everybody will get proper and affordable health care.

Let’s pledge to bring back peace and prosperity.

Let’s also pledge that all human beings deserve complete respect at all times.

And, now, I want you to add your own pledges to the list.

So, this holiday season, just dream of a country and world the way you want them and pledge your hope.

Then, make the dream come true by doing one simple thing you can do to help neighbors in need.

Pledge to give them hope because you saw their need and reached out.

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Your support for Friendship Place has a lasting impact. In 2023, our programs ended or prevented homelessness for 4,993 people, including 1,507 children in families and 670 veterans. We empowered 167 people experiencing or at risk of homelessness to get jobs through innovative, state-of-the-art job placement services. Make a donation today in support of our work to end homelessness. Questions? Please feel free to call our fundraising office, 202.957.7834.

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