‘Tis the season to plan Thanksgiving meals or decorate homes for the holidays. It’s also a good time to remember National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, held each year the week before Thanksgiving. Reliable access to food and safe shelter are two of our most important needs, and yet too many Wisconsin residents struggle to maintain one or both of these.
In Wisconsin, an estimated 4,515 people experience homelessness on any given day. Of those, 558 are family households, 337 are veterans, 193 are unaccompanied young adults (aged 18-24), and 611 are individuals experiencing chronic homelessness.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, studies show that around 1 in twelve households in Wisconsin couldn’t always afford to buy the food they needed. The disparity in food insecurity between black and white households in Wisconsin was among the largest in the country in 2019, a disparity which likely increased due to the pandemic.
Hunger and homelessness are aspects of broader and more systemic challenges that frequently impact some communities more than others, which is why organizations such as Allied Wellness Center are so critical to addressing the multifaceted factors that relate to food and housing insecurity.
Creating a Healthy Community
Located in the Allied-Dunns Marsh neighborhood, one of the most densely populated and racially diverse areas in Madison, Allied Wellness Center’s purpose is to promote wellness of the mind, body and spirit for everyone in their neighborhood.
By partnering with other service organizations, Allied helps empower community members with resources to achieve health, self-sufficiency, and a stronger future for their children. Together, these joined forces can address food insecurity, housing issues, and myriad other challenges that are often at play.
For example, Allied Wellness Center’s programs include:
- Allied Area Partnership Toward Recovery — a collaborative effort with other organizations to support people with substance abuse dependence, not only with their recovery, but also with housing, peer support, and even HIV counseling.
- Community Health Workers — a mostly volunteer-led effort to visit neighbors in their homes. These workers do everything from check blood pressure, provide transportation to doctor’s visits, and help people find access to food pantries or other resources.
- Grandparents Raising Their Children’s Children — Allied Wellness supports the unique challenges of raising grandchildren, providing grandparents with everything from parenting skills to navigating the unexpected costs of feeding and caring for children on a fixed income.
‘Imagine All We’re Doing’
Small organizations like Allied Wellness Center that cover a range of services and supports sometimes struggle to receive enough support. The pandemic’s impact further impaired many organizations’ ability to meet the increased need of its clients.
“If you can imagine all the stuff that we are doing,” Gloria Manadier-Farr told Madison Magazine in 2021. “There are times that we can’t even afford it if it weren’t for Allied partners and churches covering for us, paying for bus tickets and copays, for example.”
At FCI, we’ve been proud to partner with Allied Wellness over the years, and the City of Madison’s Community Development Division has been a key supporter as well. This holiday season, we encourage you to consider supporting small organizations in your area that are striving to address hunger, homelessness, and so many other limitations that impact our neighbors, our communities, and our state.