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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Bed of One’s Own

Last week, Anne told us that what she really needs right now is a mattress. She explained that she and her 10- year- old son are currently sleeping on an air mattress, and that this air mattress was sure to pop soon, as all the ones before it have done.

Today, let's start raising the $430 for Anne's bed.

Her request was so basic, so modest – a mattress to put on the floor to sleep on with her son – that I felt compelled to encourage her to think bigger and to ask for a bed, complete with box spring, mattress, and simple frame.

“I don’t want my son to have to sleep on the floor.”

To read Anne’s story in her own words, and to read what the staff at The Cara Program, a nonprofit here in Chicago, have to say about her and the need she seeks support for today,watch a video of Anne describing her situation right at the bottom of this blog. Then you can go to our website at www.benevolent.net and click on the link at the top that says “Anne's Need."

Anne has a plan and a vision for her life. She has lived through violence, unemployment, and homelessness. Now she’s working, living with a friend, and saving up all her money for her own place for herself and her son. She hopes to achieve this goal in the new year and to have enough room so that she and her son can each have a bed, among other things.

Anne’s story is very common, yet when you meet her or watch her video, she doesn’t easily fit into any stereotypes we have of those who are homeless. She is in that category of “precariously housed,” or “couch-homeless.” Estimates from the National Coalition for the Homeless tell us that approximately 1.65% of the entire U.S. population fits into this category. That’s upwards of 5 million people couch surfing, without a place of their own.

What a bed will mean to Anne will be the end to spending $20 each on a series of air mattresses that pop in the middle of the night about a month into their use. It will mean a place that is hers – where she can sit and read, work with her son on homework, listen to him tell her about his day at school, and watch him sleep. It means his sleep will be uninterrupted and secure. The bed will be hers – not someone’s stained hand-me-down, not something she feels obliged to someone for, just hers. In a bare subsistence life like Anne’s, that means a great deal.

Anne’s is the first need we’ll be posting to our site and opening up for support. Our real website will launch sometime next month with many more people’s stories and needs, but we chose Anne as our first and we hope you’ll help us make her an example of the power of personal stories to spur action and support.

Here’s what we can do - if you want to help support Anne's need, please go to the link on our website at www.benevolent.net that says “Donate Now.” There, you can click on a link to PayPal where you can submit a contribution. The PayPal page is truly not pretty, but it works.

As soon as we’ve received the total amount needed for Anne to buy a bed for herself and her son, we’ll send the money along to The Cara Program -- the nonprofit that supports Anne with regard to job training and support -- and they will get the funds to Anne for the bed. We’ll update her page on our website so that you know not to send any more contributions for her.

By supporting Anne’s need, you’ll be helping her get the bed for herself and her son, but you’ll also be helping us here at Benevolent as we learn what works best. As with every need, we’ll use about 6.75% to cover our own costs (including credit card processing – ouch!) here at Benevolent. We’ve already factored that into the amount we need to raise to meet this need.

Whether you’re someone who will decide to help Anne or not, we’re glad that you know her now, as we do.

2006 was the last time Anne had a bed of her own. Her simple statement, “I don’t want my son to have to sleep on the floor,” is really all I needed to hear.

- Megan Kashner, Founder & CEO