With the holiday season nearing, Tallahassee students and residents are setting aside their personal wants and needs to create change for change, literally.
According to talgov.com, Change for Change was adopted by Tallahassee in 2004 after being recommended by the Tallahassee Equality Action Ministry. The program allows residents to make monthly contributions through their utility bills to go towards helping families find homes in the area.
Dana Hork founded Change for Change in 1999 after realizing she had accumulated a notable sum of loose change at the end of her freshman year in college.
Hork heads Change for Change at the national level, along with a dedicated board of directors.
Change for Change has since expanded its vision beyond just college students and seeks to work with all young adults in building a culture of change — with loose change
In Tallahassee alone, there are more than 550 children without a home, which is nearly 20 percent of the city’s total homeless population.
According to its website, the Change for Change program provides basic needs and emergency services to help homeless families and individuals in Tallahassee.
Wendy Rodriguez, a beneficiary of the HOPE Community program, said the program is essential to the Tallahassee community.
“Change for Change is an incredible program, especially when it comes to children and families,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez is a single mother of five who became homeless a year ago after staying in a motel for as long as her money would allow her.
Current recipients of Change for Change funding include The HOPE Community, America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend, and the Capital Area Community Action Agency Inc.
Carrie Poole, an employee at the Tallahassee City Hall Department of Communications who heads the Change for Change initiative, said it has been a challenging yet rewarding experience.
Pool said that assisting families provides an uplifting feeling.
“Watching family’s firsthand battle with homelessness is trying, but to be a part of something that helps these families win their battle is truly heartwarming,” Poole said.
City Commissioner Gil Ziffer has been actively involved in the Change for Change initiative. He said it is important to assist with the homelessness issue in the city.
“Any of us could have children or grandchildren, and as elected officials it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to help with these issues,” Ziffer said.
For those unable to sign up to make a monthly contribution through their city utilities account, one-time donations are also appreciated. Checks payable to City of Tallahassee Change for Change can be mailed to the Utility Business & Customer Services Customer Services Division at 408 N Adams St.
Monthly contributions to Change for Change will be listed on the donators’ utility bill each month, which can be used as documentation for a tax deductible.