By Rabbi Alan Cook, Temple DeHirsch Sinai
Addressing the issue of homelessness definitely qualifies as a “BHAG.” This is a term coined by sociologists Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, which stands for “Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal.” The scope of a problem of this nature is so enormous that we have a hard time wrapping our minds around it. It feels as though since we can’t completely conquer the issue, we might as well not even try.
I am not immune to this kind of thinking. Though I have devoted myself this year, as a participant in Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry’s Faith & Family Homelessness effort, to focusing on homelessness, there are many other social action issues locally, nationally, and internationally that are vying for my attention. I wish that I could find the time and the funds to support them all.
There is one organization working with the homeless that is currently facing dire need. Temple De Hirsch Sinai and I have worked for a number of years with PSKS (Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets) a wonderful center that serves homeless and at-risk teens. PSKS provides youth with a safe haven where they can hang out, get counseling, learn job skills, and receive other services that can truly improve their quality of life.
PSKS, like so many other institutions, is struggling in this economy. They are facing a deficit of over $70,000 due to the loss of funding sources upon which they had previously relied. PSKS was recently featured on KING5 News and inThe Seattle Times, which drew attention to their plight and brought them some much-needed funds. But they still are dealing with a significant shortfall that may force them to close their doors. After eighteen years, they would be forced to turn away their clients who, lacking other resources, would be forced to return to the streets.
I am personally making a donation to help keep PSKS open because I believe in the important mission of this organization. If you would like to learn more about PSKS, check out their website at www.psks.org If you agree that grassroots programs like this are important to the well-being of our community, please consider offering your support. There are links on the PSKS website that will permit you to donate via the Seattle Foundation, or you may send a check directly to PSKS at 1814 Summit Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122.
Rabbi Cook works closely with the Tikkun Olam Committee and the Hazmanah committee at Temple DeHirsch Sinai. He believes it is our sacred responsibility to work in partnership with God to make this world a better place.