Business & Finance

Be super: help house the homeless

NOT ALL SUPERHEROES have to wear a cape (DC Comics photo).

NOT ALL SUPERHEROES have to wear a cape (DC Comics photo).

Superman vs. Batman

I went to the grocery store yesterday morning wearing a Superman T-shirt. I turned the corner of the crackers and cookies aisle only to see a guy in a Batman t-shirt coming toward me with a six year old boy. As we got closer the boy looked up to Batman and audibly uttered “Uh-oh”. Batman and I locked eyes and both decided that this wasn’t the place, or the time and we passed peacefully.

Your Money Matters logoBefore I finished checking out I also saw Captain America and Ironman. Each one of these superheroes nodded in acknowledgement as we passed in the produce section and in front of the deli case. Each one stood a little taller as we did it, pushing our grocery carts. As I drove home I wondered why so many doughy guys like me wear superhero shirts, in public. Is it because we’re hoping for an opportunity to be super?

Then I woke up this morning and saw the reports detailing the explosion in Manhattan last night and unexploded bomb they found a couple blocks away. I listened to the accounts of the brave residents and first responders and how they reacted quickly and with purpose; urgent concern, but not frantic panic.

That’s when I got it. We want to be those brave souls. And it all came full circle.

Last night my wife and I attended the annual gala in Newport Beach for Families Forward (http://www.families-forward.org). They are an organization dedicated to fighting homelessness here in Orange County. The program included a talk delivered by a couple who had “graduated” the Families Forward program. Rebecca and Victor shared their experience before, during, and after knowing the dedicated staff at FF.

It was sad to me to know that families face the kinds of struggles that Rebecca and Victor had overcome. It was affirming to know that the human spirit is capable of just that, overcoming the struggle. But mostly it was inspiring to participate in a celebration of triumph, and I look forward to more celebrations.

FF served 150 families locally last year by way of temporary housing and housing assistance. They’ve been helping OC families in need for 32 years. When the Executive Director, Margie Wakeham addressed those gathered she informed us that last year FF had served 6000 individuals through their food pantry, and had provided safety net services to over 8000 children and adults right here in Orange County. But what she said last was the most telling.

She said that after all these years, and all the different ways FF had worked to solve the many parts of the homeless problem in Orange County she had concluded that “housing is the only solution to homelessness.” That was both obvious and shocking at the same time. In recent years their focus has tangibly shifted to that priority – providing housing and housing assistance to the homeless. I got a chance last night to help. And I want to offer you that opportunity too.

Families Forward, and their “clients” would certainly like your help. Donations are fully tax deductible, so by contributing you can effectively redirect tax dollars to a cause you want to back. And that is true of any qualified charity whose work you want to support. That’s not the reason to do it (the tax deduction) – but it feels good to know that an organization you love will benefit from some of the tax money you would have “donated” by way of income taxes.

The reason to do it is because we all want to be those brave souls. Like the angels in Manhattan this week, or like Rebecca and Victor. That’s why we wear superhero T-shirts. Thanks for reminding me of that at Ralphs this past Saturday morning Batman. Next time you see me I’ll be wearing that Superman T-shirt under my suit and tie – looking for an opportunity. I get a feeling that you might be too.

You can reach Chris at chris@ymminc.com.

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