Weekly Feature

2017-07-12 / Business

Buffalo City Mission launches Summer of Hope campaign


The Buffalo City Mission has started its second annual Summer of Hope campaign to raise money for its rescue and restoration services and increase awareness about the specific burdens that summer brings for the homeless.

Having begun in June, the Summer of Hope initiative will continue through August, according to Aubrey Calhoun, associate executive director of the mission.

“This is a campaign that tries to generate awareness about the needs of the homeless in the summer,” Calhoun said.

While working on the campaign, Calhoun has reiterated — both to volunteers and the public — that homelessness persists 365 days a year. For homeless people, summer weather carries a potential for danger and devastation equivalent to the colder conditions, according to Calhoun.

The mission offers two primary assistance programs: rescue and restoration. With donations from the Summer of Hope campaign, it can continue to provide such services to the homeless population in Buffalo.

Through its rescue program, the mission provides emergency shelter and showers, clean clothing and laundry services, chaplaincy and case management, according to the Buffalo City Mission website. DREAM, the Mission’s restoration initiative, functions as a transitional housing program, during which individuals live at the City Mission.

Participating in the DREAM program, people can return to school, explore career options, receive counseling and work toward attaining safe and affordable housing. For three and a half years, the mission has partnered with Erie Community College in enabling the people it serves to complete certified skills programs and degree programs.

“[Restoration programs] can help sustain the homeless and keep them out of poverty,” Calhoun said. “Our goal is to put people back on the road to self-sufficiency.”

Within the framework of Summer of Hope, Calhoun manages, implements and tracks the results of her team’s various fundraising and educational efforts. Over the course of the summer, the team aspires to educate the community on the specific seasonal needs of the homeless and “uplift giving” to the mission, according to Calhoun.

During the summer, as people tend to focus on vacationing, relaxing and spending time with family, donations to the mission typically dwindle. Thus, in Summer of Hope, the organizers have established a larger marketing initiative with a two-pronged approach: increase donations and educate the public.

To help the public “understand the urgency and the need,” Calhoun said the mission has spread its message by employing different media: social media, marketing integration and commercials. Furthering their educational outreach, Calhoun and her staff have met with donors, churches, businesses, schools and individuals to generate awareness and put forth a consistent message on the needs of the homeless.

While low temperatures and harsh weather pose an obvious threat to homeless people during the winter, the dangers of summer weather often appear more subtly and, consequently, go unnoticed. During the summer, potential dangers include dehydration, infection from improper clothing, heat exhaustion, nutrient deficiency and limited access to clean, safe water.

“Our number one message is really to think about the homeless the whole entire year,” Calhoun said. “The winter and summer are equally dangerous seasons.”

Following the summer decline, donations — in a cyclical pattern — typically increase come fall and winter, specifically during the holidays and subsequent to the first snowfall or drop in temperatures, according to Calhoun. Although summer in Buffalo lasts comparatively shorter and brings milder weather than some other places, the increased temperatures still cause complications.

With its Summer of Hope campaign, the mission has placed monetary donations in the foreground, which can enable the continuation of both short- and long-term programs. If people cannot afford financial donations, however, Calhoun suggests volunteering, hosting drives or donating clothing and canned goods.

“The need is great, and the need is still growing,” she said. “[Our work] is all about offering a second chance for a new beginning.”

In the Summer of Hope initiative’s inaugural year, the mission met its fundraising goal of $80,000. Since beginning this year’s campaign in June, it has met approximately half of the $100,000 goal, according to Calhoun.

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