After an emotional journey, Alisa was finally ready to leave the safety and familiarity of the domestic violence shelter she had been staying at. However, with few possessions, she quickly realized that she and her three daughters would be sleeping on the floor of their new apartment. At meal time, they would be eating with paper plates and disposable utensils, surrounded with the few possessions they had piled on the floor. Fortunately for Alisa and her family, Wings Advocacy Fresno was there to make a home for the family as they rebuild their lives and strive for a brighter future.
Wings Advocacy Fresno is a local community benefit organization that was founded in 2014. Formed in collaboration with Fresno social service agencies, Wings engages teams of volunteers to provide support to homeless individuals and victims of domestic violence living in Fresno. Annually, Wings volunteers donate nearly 10,000 hours to run three programs: the Furniture Bank, the Documentation program, and the Advocacy program. Together, these three programs provide services that government-funded agencies cannot.
The largest effort, the Furniture Bank, was established in 2015. Local social service agencies refer previously homeless clients to the program to receive gently used home furnishing donations, new bed sets, and new linens. Through word of mouth and social media platforms, Wings solicits furnishings donations which are picked up by a team of volunteers. At Wings’ warehouse in west Fresno, volunteers then sort, stage, and deliver the donated furnishings, new bed sets, pillows, and linens to as many as 10 families per week. Wings also provides a “Welcome Home Basket” of new supplies to every family, which includes laundry and cleaning supplies and hygiene items. National housing policies confirm that the successful settling of a homeless family or individual into housing requires ongoing supportive services. Wings believes that, through providing a client with the comforts of home, the chance of successful housing placement, reduced recidivism, and increased productivity are greatly increased.
The Wings delivery team ready for a big day serving Fresno neighbors escaping homelessness. (Photo courtesy of Wings Advocacy Fresno)
A happy Wings client on move-in day with her best buddy, Spot. (Photo courtesy of Wings Advocacy Fresno)
On the day he left the street and moved into his new home, formerly “Homeless Poet” Larry recites one of his poems to Wings volunteers Anna Hecker and Bev Fitzpatrick. (Photo courtesy of Wings Advocacy Fresno)
Wings’ Documentation program assists chronically homeless individuals with obtaining the paperwork and information necessary to move into housing. Each week, Wings volunteers meet with clients and their case managers at the DMV office at Olive Avenue in Fresno. Every year, Wings assists in the procurement of over 200 California ID cards and birth certificates, and even orders out-of-state birth certificates, if needed. Through Wings’ Advocacy program, volunteers provide follow-up assistance for special needs, such as locating donated computers for high school children, help locating accessible food banks, and sourcing low-cost Internet services.
Wings Documentation volunteer Marianne LeCompte helps a client apply for his required California ID card at the Olive Avenue DMV. Although trips to the DMV can be a chore for most, it’s an especially frightening experience for the chronically homeless, and can be a barrier to being housed. (Photo courtesy of Wings Advocacy Fresno)
Wings believes that providing these support services for homeless individuals and victims of domestic violence is not only the right thing to do, but that it adds one more foundation to anchor them in housing. As Wings is a 100% volunteer organization, they are always seeking energetic volunteers of all ages to assist with providing these invaluable services to as many individuals as possible. If you would like more information on volunteering with Wings, or if you’d like to apply to become a volunteer, please visit their website. You can also find out how to donate gently used furnishings by clicking here, or support Wings’ efforts with a financial contribution by clicking here.
The Central Valley Community Foundation is proud to spotlight organizations like Wings Advocacy Fresno on our blog to share the stories of organizations working to make a difference in the Valley’s communities.