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“Blessings,” described a homeless man, who prefers to remain nameless, carrying two trash bags down Caesar E Chavez Boulevard — the generous members of the UTSA community are blessings.

Close by campus, a homeless woman, Joanne Shores, exits a VIA bus. She asks for fifty cents. “I ask for what I need,” she said, “and the people around are kind.”

Nearly 3,000 homeless persons including those sheltered and un-sheltered live in San Antonio, reported “The 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress.”

“Our goal is to provide a place of hope and new beginnings so that people can lift themselves out of homeless,” stated Haven for Hope Director of External Relations Laura Calderon. Since its opening in 2010, Haven for Hope has housed nearly 2,000 men, women and children and assisted more than 1,000 in gaining employment.

Haven for Hope is a volunteer-run organization. “Our goal is to help a person out of homelessness,” said Calderon, as well as, “ to address the root causes of homeless, whether it is an addiction, mental illness or some other reason.”

In addition to collaborating with UTSA students, Haven for Hope partners with over 90 organizations to offer comprehensive services to those in need.

The San Antonio Rescue Mission, another volunteer-run organization, collaborates with churches and local food establishments to conduct food drives, providing meals a few times a year to those in need.

Graduate students run the UTSA College of Public Policy’s Department of Social Work in an effort to empower “mind, body and spirit” of the less fortunate who are staying in one of the Haven for Hope’s centers.

What can UTSA students do to help? “Advocate for better mental health services, convince your house of worship to work with homeless persons and donate warm winter clothing to organizations that serve the homeless,” Calderon suggested.

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