Homelessness is an issue that is especially hard during the holiday season. At a time of year when most people are circling round the fire with friends and family, some people have nowhere to go, and very few people to turn to. Thankfully, there are some selfless souls in Buffalo who are doing their best to turn things around for the homeless community. And they are doing it though the schools.
“During a recent workshop, when we asked how many students knew of someone dealing with homelessness, half the hands went up,” reports Bob James, LCSW-R, Director of the WNY-based non-profit, IRS recognized 501c3, Power of Song, Inc. “We were all shocked. That was a wake-up call that there’s a lot of need out there to connect school kids to places like Compass House.”
The Buffalo Blues workshop, conducted at the Buffalo Academy for Visual & Performing Arts, showed how musicians can boost their careers in the arts while ‘giving back.’ On display was the program Buffalo Blues Benefit for Veterans that uses music events to raise funds for veterans housing. WNY musicians performed and facilitated a Q&A with service organizations for homeless veterans and youth.
Compass House, which serves area youth with safe shelter and supportive services, and the Homeless Alliance of Western New York were there to meet the students and demonstrate their availability. The WNY Veterans Housing Coalition, founded in 1987, was also there to share how the “BuffaloBlues” project has donated over $20,000 to their efforts in just one year. Buffalo Blues has developed partnerships with the Buffalo Sabres, WYRK radio, offices of Mayor Byron Brown, County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Congressman Brian Higgins, along with a range of WNY family businesses.
Simple user-friendly lessons on homelessness:
In the end, the hope is, the students are able to engage the arts such as music, which translates into helping the homeless. Often times, young people are more interested in dialing into their own pursuits, which means that it’s imperative to show them that there are ways to help others, while doing the things that they love. If you don’t make it too complicated, and you can show that there are benefits that ripple out into the community, the hope is that some of the students will carry these lessons around with them the rest of their lives.
Lead image: 11/22/17 Buffalo Schools – Caitlin Koch and Dylan Hund perform, and present on homelessness for youth & veterans.