By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member
There is no shortage of opportunities to help people who are experiencing homelessness. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen, make clothing donations to shelters and even fundraise for organizations dedicated to alleviating homelessness.
However, Bright Mind Enrichment and Schooling (BME), a community wellness education organization, determined that there was a need for a comprehensive platform to educate people about how they can safely help homeless people on a regular basis and forge meaningful connections with them.
This led the nonprofit to launch Street Care, a mobile app and website that provides 60-second video tutorials, wellness and health tip sheets and a toolkit that details the most useful care items for people living on the streets.
“We’re not doing anything that anybody else couldn’t do, but what distinguishes Street Care is that we’ve taken the time to create the technology along with the content and videos to work carefully to get out the message of how to work with homeless people while still giving respect and dignity to people in this situation,” said Martin Brooks, director of Street Care and co-founder of BME.
Some of the video tutorial topics cover how to inform homeless people about COVID-19 precautions, how to approach homeless people who are displaying signs of mental illness and how to respect the personal space of homeless people.
The app, which launched at the end of 2020, features a section to prepare people before they participate in outreach as well as a section to provide people with information on what to do while they are on the street. The last section allows users to log their visit with a short form that asks about their experience.
Both the website and application were created to be mobile sensitive and easy to use. BME realized that if users open the platform while they are on the street, they may have spotty internet service or limited bandwidth so it was designed to avoid those barriers.
Apart from the numerous resources Street Care offers, its main objective is to foster a sense of community between those that volunteer and those that are homeless.
“We’re not just focusing on how to help the people that are suffering [from homelessness,” said Craig Kaufman, executive director of BME. “It’s a community, and it’s building togetherness.”
Baltimore Point-in-Time Count found that on any given night in 2020, 2,193 people are experiencing homelessness. Street Care, as an initiative, has done a lot of outreach in the Inner Harbor, Curtis Bay and around Camden Yards. Overall, Street Care has helped over 1,000 homeless people and has given out over 11,000 donation items that range from sleeping bags to food items.
“Streetcare is important because it is an effort and opportunity to humanize the problem of homelessness,” said Brooks.
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