"Here in Connecticut there are 1300 families who have experienced homelessness in the last year," says Madeline Ravich, Development Consultant for CCEH. "We believe that homelessnes shouldn't begin in the first place, for anyone, especially families. It's a terrible thing because being homeless normalizes the experience of shelter for chidlren so they're more likely to end up in shelter later in life." The ultimate goal of the campaign is to raise money for an emergency assistance fund which could be used to prevent families from becoming homeless. According to Ravich, there are incredibly high costs to families and society, associated with homelessness. "There is currently no source of funding in Connecticut or states across the country to prevent families from entering homelessness in the first place and that's what we're trying to change," she says.
Another goal of the project is to involve children in the mission, teaching them about homelessness at a young age in a way they can understand. Ravich, a mom of two young children, believes the involvement of character Paddington, a bear once homeless, will resonate with kids. "My four year old is capable of understanding this in a certian kind of way. We don't need to scare children to talk about an important issue and children ought to help," she says. "We know that children are empathetic and really want to help."
The campaign was launched in January in Stamford at a sneak-peek of the new Paddington movie, starring Hugh Bonneville and Nicole Kidman, based on the beloved book series. It continues through Paddington story times and marmalade drives, organized by local libraries. The concept, started by a Yale grad student and adopted by staff at the Wilson Branch of the New Haven Free Public Library System, invites children to listen to a Paddington reading, discuss homelessness, complete an activity sheet then decorate a marmalade jar to be used to collect donations for CCEH.
Right now, checks can be mailed to CCEH. But Ravich hopes to announce jar drop-off locations by the end of the month. Click here for information. You can also email email@example.com.