The 2020, Q3 winner of our Grants for Good program is Leah's Hopes and Dreams (LHD), a nonprofit in Charlotte, North Carolina striving to reduce homelessness in their community. A recent report found over 3,700 homeless individuals living on the streets of Charlotte; homelessness has doubled as a result of COVID-19, and it has been challenging locating safe housing for the homeless.
LHD works with homeless individuals to provide transitional housing. Those living in tents are provided with toiletries, food, clothes, sleeping supplies, and mobile pop-up showers that serve 20-25 daily. Since COVID, they've provided 400 showers. Over the past two years, LHD has served over 40,000 meals, provided countless toiletries, clothes, supplies, and educational programs for in-demand skills to help individuals become employable.
The nonprofit founder, Shenique, is a true inspiration. Shenique's mission arose from the struggles she experienced in her life. Shenique shares, "Early on, I experienced homelessness, so I understand first-hand what it feels like not to have the necessities to make it through the day. There were many days when I went to school with no shoes on my feet, and I didn't know where my next meal was coming from." Shenique started LHD in 2012 in honor of her mom, Leah, an incredible, single mom who raised eight kids on ninety dollars a week in the Bahamas. After moving to the United States on a track scholarship, getting married, and going on several mission trips, Shenique and her husband realized their passion was serving and helping others. They started the nonprofit, which became a 501(c)(3) in 2015 and has served over 20,000 individuals.
LHD is making a significant impact in the Charlotte community, and the proof is in their consistency to serve multiple times a week. Shenique shared, "Our homeless brothers and sister wait with anticipation every week, knowing that we will show up in the tent communities, and on the streets in Charlotte to feed them. We listen to their stories, connect them with other resources to help build their hope, offer counseling when needed, and more."
Shenique identified significant ways folks can support LHD, which includes the following:
Organize a drive with friends or employees. Collect coats, socks, and especially gloves.
School Supply Drive
Do a school supply drive with employees, friends, or family. At the start of each school year, LHD collects and distributes school supplies like paper, pens,pencils, highlighters, book bags, lunch boxes, and more.
You could raise money for the organization by hosting a fundraiser. Your donation can also directly support one of their initiatives, like a pop-up shower, food distribution, men's housing center, or the career development/education program.
LHD has one house where families can stay while they get on their feet. LHD is in the process of closing on a second home to accommodate approximately 15 men who are currently living in tents. There are more housing programs for women and children, so LHD wants a place specifically for men, which will help them get back on their feet.
LHD now offers career development courses and training for some certifications. Volunteer to teach for career development, as LHD brings people in to teach resume writing, interviewing, etc.
What are some of Shenique's and LHD's goals? They want to expand their housing program to get more people off the streets and continue offering supplies and food. They also want to expand their pop-up showers so people can shower with toiletries instead of rinsing off in a puddle or community fountain. LHD's big long-term goal is to build their tiny homes community like the Community First in Texas, which includes 250 homes. Shenique stated, "We have a builder and just need to buy the land and start building!"
How will this Grants for Good donation benefit LHD? The donation will be used to purchase a shower truck to service their homeless brothers and sisters in the tent communities. Shenique added, "The simple truth is those who can't access showers end up washing up in public sinks, outdoor faucets, or not at all. As a result, they suffer from alienation and preventable ailments such as skin infections, open sores, scabies, lice, and staph infections. Limited access to regular bathing may exacerbate chronic diseases like HIV or diabetes and poses barriers to treatment adherence resulting in public health concerns. We want to reduce these undeniable issues during this unprecedented time."
Learn more about Leah's Hopes and Dreams and donate via https://www.leahshopesanddreams.org/.