We have an announcement! We’re adding a new web post twice a month – thank yous to our wonderful donors! We know that some of y’all don’t use social media for various reasons, but we still wanted to be able to share our gratitude with you. So every 2 weeks, we will be sharing thank yous from Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram so our web-only donors & volunteers can share the love! The thank yous will be on the Fridays in between the giveaway wrap-ups and the traffic light shopping guides – we don’t want to fill up your inboxes too much!

Next Friday, we’ll begin the regularly scheduled thank you posts. But today, we wanted to say a special thank you for everything that we’ve gotten since our August giveaway! ATXAHH’s 50 States Challenge has been wonderful this year. Between our August & September giveaways, we collected a record-breaking 3,861 items!

Here are your generous donations:

DK donation DS donation GL donation

HC donation JH donation JH donation

JW donation KB donation KEW donation

LS donation MG donation MS donation

PB donation RB donation SU donation

We also have a few donations that we weren’t able to get pictures of. They are from:
G. & L. S.
We also didn’t get any pictures of donations that were dropped off at the giveaway. We’re definitely going to do that next month!
Thank you all!

Did you send in a donation, but don’t see it in the thank yous? Don’t worry, we probably got it. Sometimes, we get donations without any paperwork from Amazon. Here are photos of all the unclaimed donations:
(If you sent one of these in & would like to let us know that it was you, please email atxahhdonations@gmail.com)

Floss picks Sleeping pad Combs

Raisins travel toothbrushes

Our fabulous Gettin’ Knotty group donated not only hats, scarves, and washcloths, but over 350 other items too, from toiletries to snacks. V.M.; K.B.; M.V.; L.T.; A.M.; & C.L. – y’all rock!

As y’all probably know by now, we are celebrating our 6th birthday this month. Our Beyond the Basics group made & decorated 80 goodie bags that were given away at our September giveaway. Every one was taken! We really hope they brought some smiles. V.M., D.L.C.P., A.L., L.T., E.H., K.C., and S.H. – thanks for your thoughtfulness!

We really appreciate all these amazing donations. There is no such thing as “too little” of a donation – every item we receive helps. We can make some super stone soup! 🙂
If you’re in the Austin area & would like to make a donation, please email atxahhdonations@gmail.com. Our donations coordinator will put you in touch with the closest volunteer.
Not in the Austin area? Not a problem! Check out our Amazon wish list – they’ll send your donation straight to us. 

We also have a wonderful article written by our volunteer coordinator to share with you. Enjoy!

“Don’t call me homeless, I don’t call you homed.”
By Virginia Miller
September 25, 2015
*Title of article taken from the play “Don’t call me homeless, I don’t call you homed”, written by Jeff Gross of University of Kentucky.
     As individuals, I’m sure we all have a particular word that would be insulting or wouldn’t favor.  Maybe you’ve been judged by having tattoos or even the color of your skin?  For myself I can say someone has looked at my tattoos and had me figured out before even asking my name.  Working with a community of people experiencing homelessness and limited resources you are exposed to a world of knowledge you couldn’t fathom before entering.  You start talking to this vastly individualized community and learn their stories, their triumphs, and their misfortunes, seldom do you hear similar stories.  The stereotypes you’ve picked up over the years seem to fall away.  Meeting some individuals, I can almost relate and imagine myself in their shoes if only a slight twist of fate became my reality.
Roughly a year and a half ago I referred to the panhandlers I saw in Austin as homeless people.  When finding out ATXAHH existed I immediately wanted to be involved.  During my process of starting Gettin’ Knotty, a group who knits and crochets items for ATXAHH’s giveaways, I was thrown into a world I really knew nothing about.  A world a lot more complex and worth my attention. 
     There are varying degrees of people we help each month during our giveaways.  I have met people who live on the streets, some in shelters, people who couch surf, individuals and even families barely making ends meet and teetering on the edge of becoming homeless.  Surprisingly some choose to live without an address.  In my own neighborhood we have a resident veteran, Kevin, who prefers to sleep outdoors.  You see Kevin from time to time walking up the boulevard with his large rolling suitcase.  Some days you’ll catch a glimpse of him having a burger, on his laptop and taking advantage of the WiFi at the local McDonalds.  People have come through our line from all walks of life and not all are the typical drunkard stereotypes.  I have met some very warm, loving, smart, funny and uniquely interesting folks.  No matter who they are or what their situation is, often I hear them being lumped into one category, homeless people.  Those two words are also defined with descriptive words like; lazy, drunk, drug addicts…  Often I hear, “Oh, they don’t care that they are called homeless people.”  Well do they?
     When lumping everyone under one category are we being considerate of what a person is actually experiencing?  In an article from 2007 Silicon Valley Mercury News’s website titled, “Please don’t call me homeless” by Joe Rodriguez he writes about Norman Carroll and Norman’s realization that he is not a homeless person but rather a person with no home, or “unhoused”.  Carroll also explains very poignantly, he loves living in Palo Alto, California but not how he is living.  Ultimately Carroll changed the way the city saw the needs and preferences of people who are “unhoused” and influenced a “Housing First” strategy.  Norman, through his understanding and experiences being without a home found the resources needed to improve his life situation.  This is only one of many cases where lumping individuals into a one-size-fits-all box will not help those who need individualized assistance. 
     Another article in from London’s New Statesman, ‘People without homes not “homeless people”’ by Jack Watling explored the world of persons without homes and found no two stories were the same.  In fact, in an interview with Ollie Kendall, who helps coordinate homeless shelters said:  “While we do get some street drinkers and drug users, the majority of our guests don’t fit the homeless stereotype.  Most of our guests are individuals who have, for whatever reason, been without a community to care for them when things went wrong.”  Watling continued on with stories from Aaron, a man literally down on his luck during the economic downturn, highly qualified, unemployed and profiled as lazy when panhandling for money.  Aaron explains:  “When you sit down with a cup on the floor and you are not dirty people give you this horrible look like you are a liar or a fraud.”  “They think that because you are homeless you should smell; you should look a certain way.  It is a strange attitude that people have.”  Then you have Xabier from Nicaragua, fresh out of high school, decided to travel the world, first landing in Madrid and got a job as a waiter in a bar.  He was caught up in the economic shift after his arrival, Xabier recounts; “The bar had to be sold.  No one had any money so there just wasn’t enough business.  I lost my job; just like everyone else.  No one could find any work so I spent a month on the street.”  Xabier was caught in a situation being a migrant who couldn’t get work because of his language barrier and no family close enough to help him.  Watling closes with his thoughts about the issue of homelessness and states:  “If it is going to be solved then we must not look down at someone lying in the tube station and see a “homeless person”, we must see a person who does not have a home. 

     These are only two of the many articles out there that support real facts about people struggling with basic human needs.  It really isn’t up to us to label them in any way, but to realize they are individuals as different and unique as all of us.  Even as unique as people who are “unhoused” appear, we could all relate in some way and take a step back to look at the bigger picture.  They are simply lacking a four-walled structure with a roof and may need our help.  Take the time to ask and listen to their story.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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