What do you do when a homeless person approaches you? How do you react? Do you spare a dollar? Do you think it will help get them off the streets? Everyone has been in this situation and come across the same questions. Most people are never quite sure how to help, but one organization, SEARCH, is taking the initiative and making a difference to end the cycle of homelessness.
SEARCH, Service of the Emergency Aid Resource Center for the Homeless, was founded in 1989 by several religious congregations. They pinpointed the need to address the growing homeless population in Houston by trying to empower the homeless to live independently and off the streets. Rather than simply help them to live based on survival, SEARCH is equipping these people with the skills to lead happy, prosperous lives without the need of outside assistance.
The mission of the organization is to focus on the needs of each individual; then, after identifying the problem, assist them by providing programs and classes to restore their self-esteem and help them create and achieve their goals. The organization has become the leading service provider in Houston for homeless persons and their families. Each month, the staff at SEARCH improves the lives of more than 2,300 men, women and children.
There is an abundance of programs available through the organization, including The House of Tiny Treasures. Intended for children 6 weeks to 5 years of age, the program is open to SEARCH children that would otherwise not have the opportunity to receive early developmental education. The children are offered speech and language therapy, as well as enrichment services, to prepare them for kindergarten and grade school. Even food and transportation services are provided to and from the center.
For the adults involved with SEARCH, a Company Kitchen was created to provide job experience and training in a catering environment. Founded in 1999, it has grown to cater nearly 1,200 meetings and events around Houston last year. They also have a Cookie House program that allows anyone to purchase a box of 16 freshly baked cookies. With so many flavors (chocolate chunk, white macadamia chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and peanut butter), you can pick your favorite, and all the proceeds go directly to SEARCH.
Among the other services is an Employment Education Center that includes a plethora of opportunities for SEARCH members to find and hold a job long after their time with the program. They also have an on-site health care system that provides primary care, dentistry, mental health counseling and a mobile outreach unit that offers services to all homeless individuals across the Houston area. H