You asked, we answered: How can people help those who are homeless in the Coachella Valley?

The Coachella Valley is a very philanthropic community, so it wasn’t surprising that, when we asked readers to send in questions they had about homelessness in the Coachella Valley, many wanted to know what they could do to help.

The fourth installment of the Coachella Valley homelessness Q&A series provides a list of suggestions for how readers can make a positive impact on the homeless crisis in the valley.

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Question: How can people help those who are homeless in the Coachella Valley?

A plethora of readers had the same question: “How can the general public help?” “Where can we go to volunteer?” “Please advise me how I can get involved and help.” “What can middle school and high school students do to help?” “I would be happy to serve or help in any way I can.” “I would like to know where I can bring donations.”

Service providers were happy to hear that so many readers were interested in donating or volunteering.

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Answer: Donate to the organizations who are experts in the field and are already doing the work.

The Desert Sun crowd-sourced a list of ways the public can make the biggest impact from Coachella Valley experts working in the industry. Here’s what they had to say:

Greg Rodriguez, Riverside County Board of Supervisors public policy adviser, Fourth District: The best way for individuals to help with addressing homelessness is to help and support the current agencies who are tackling the issue by donating money or volunteering. This would primarily be the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission, Martha’s Village and Kitchen, Shelter from the Storm and Jewish Family Services of the Desert all would benefit from financial assistance.

The real way people can help is to assist in finding locations for people to be housed. Whether it is an apartment, a casita or a room, any housing is essential to address the shortage of affordable housing. We have dozens of people who have a housing voucher in their hand but can’t find a place to use it. Additionally, residents should be attending their city council meetings and planning meetings to help advocate for more affordable housing projects within their city.

Maureen Forman, Jewish Family Services of the Desert director: People can help by donating to agencies that help with rent and utilities, which JFS and Senior Advocates of the Desert both do. All homeless people are not chronically homeless, and the fixed income seniors are becoming the largest growing population of the newly homeless due to newly raised rents or unexpected expenses that use up their fixed income Social Security. Agencies that help with rent and utilities keep seniors in their homes while also helping the senior get on the low-income senior housing wait lists.

Tom Cox, Coachella Valley Rescue Mission program director: Donating to service providers is the most helpful way people can help. We serve 1,200 meals a day, along with other providers who serve meals, too. Donations allow us to continue doing that. We also know what the needs are of the community, like the problem of the day is that we are out of underwear today.

Doug Morin, Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine director: CVVIM appreciates community support! Consider volunteering and become a member of our Tuesday evening outreach efforts or donate to allow CVVIM to purchase much-needed medical supplies. All donations are tax-deductible. 

Bill Ballas, Health to Hope director: The public must resist the good-natured urge to give money to a homeless individual. Instead, they could buy that person a meal. They should also refer a homeless person to an area shelter or Health to Hope Clinics. For people who want to make a financial donation to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit serving the homeless, there are many deserving organizations in Coachella Valley who provide food, shelter, health care and other services to the homeless. These agencies are always looking for additional funds to provide more and better services to the growing number of homeless individuals in Coachella Valley. These nonprofits also have many volunteer opportunities. For example, at Health to Hope Clinics we are looking for Spanish speaking individuals to hang “door knockers” explaining our services on doors in the neighborhoods near our clinics in Indio. We are also grateful for medical assistants, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and physicians who would like to volunteer in our clinics.

Kimberly Stauffer, Martha’s Village and Kitchen development director: As with most organizations, our biggest needs are donations. Donors can make a donation online or call at 760-347-4741 ext. 120. Another way to help is volunteering. We have hundreds of volunteers each month who help with food service, emergency pantry, children’s services and at our thrift store location. For those interested in donating items, Martha’s is currently stocking up on items that are in high-demand during the summer, including bottled water, snacks, hats, cooling towels, socks, wipes, battery powered fans, sunscreen, hygiene products, lip balms and adhesive strips. Martha’s also benefits from community members who host drives including food drives, baby supply drives, hygiene supplies drives and clothing and household items drives. We could not do the work that we do without the support of the community. It takes a village to help change lives!

Desert Sun reporter Nicole Hayden covers health and healthcare in the Coachella Valley. She can be reached at or (760) 778-4623. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_A_Hayden.

[This story was originally published by The Desert Sun.]