H.I.P. – Humanity Integration Project

I remember as a kid and seeing block houses in the neighborhoods. These were identified as having a sign in the window to let people in trouble know it was a safe house for them to seek help. I remember being the a school play as a flying monkey in the Wizard of OZ. I remember being bullied and chased by violent kids who tormented me and tried to hurt me. I remember running as fast as I could and knowing I could not go much further. I remember seeing the sign in the window and turning as fast as I could toward the front door, praying someone was home. I remember the feeling of those bullies right on me like a pack of wolves. I remember slamming into the front door and screaming for help and a heavy set woman in her fifties opening the door and scaring off the kids that gave chase. I remember her hug and warm caring eyes as she took me in and asked me my name. I remember she gave me a glass of milk and called my parents. I remember she gave me comfort and waited with me outside until my mom came. I remember feeling safe and that everything was ok.

The Humanity Integration Project is a resurrection of those days when the community looked out for each other. HIP is a platform for courageous people in our community to step forward unafraid to be a cornerstone in our neighborhoods where those in trouble can turn to for help.

HIP is not just for the homeless children in our community. While HIP is intended to help create a network of hope for our youth, it should function for all people. A HIP sponsor may provide shelter during the winter months and receive stipends to help offset the costs of helping people. HIP may also simply be a safe house like those days of the block house when there was always at least one safe house on the block for someone to turn to. A HIP sponsor may simply invite the homeless in for a hot meal and laundry and shower or a warm bed for the night. Whatever the case, at the root, HIP is intended to provide compassion and respect above all else, at the very least.

A HIP center is a place where homeless or impoverished youth and families can find new resources and a new approach to sustenance. They can find loving support and understanding of a variety of existing services and outreach so that utilizing these resources are done so more efficiently and effectively. This could help unjam available resources and streamline the process of paperwork that often gets in the way of service. A HIP center is also a place for HIP sponsors to meet to discuss community issues and networking for the sake of building a stronger humanitarian base in the community.

The Humanity Integration Project is a concept of a return to human values and where a village indeed takes care of itself and creates a reciprocal climate of sustainability based on love and respect for the dignity of the human spirit.

Today, there are too great in the numbers of homeless children in our community. The resources available are too few with stringent ties to government funding sources and philanthropic channels where dollars are allocated through grant cycles and budget constraints. This environment is weak and is a disconnected framework that is not self-reliant.

Naturally, my diatribe this morning is inspired from something that has been unfolding over the past several months, perhaps even the past several years. To be HIP is to care; it is to have an awareness and enlightened spirit where fear is replaced with compassion. HIP is not about a religion nor is it a design to propagate dogmatic views. HIP is a community network where solutions are designed to be flexible to the unique circumstances of those that need help. When we think about the true nature of ‘need’ we tend to find ourselves mired with excessive material requirements as the standard and end up doing nothing because of perceived complexities and unobtainable requirements. However, I would argue that often the greatest value and impact to uplift the human spirit is giving them love and respect, which are immune to the greater social standards that we perceive as being necessary for success and happiness.

I have seen some of the needs of our young people and the challenges they face, and so providing a HIP haven is an important and vital gesture that builds a healthier community by investing in the human spirit with a basic framework of humanitarian ‘inreach’. Most community programs are focused on pushing resources through strict compliance and legal guidelines, and there are very important initiatives happening everywhere. However, HIP is intended to be everywhere as a community standard and not a single-source entity. HIP intends to enhance the overall spectrum of community and uplift the human experience.

Sitting here with the coffee and stormy weather this morning has brought a lot of thought about what we can do. I have two kids in the loft of my house that would otherwise be sleeping in the bushes. While I am not going to rent them their own apartment, nor buy them a car or create a job for them, I am here simply with a little extra space where they can relax and stop for a moment with a warm bed, hot shower, and a meal or two. They can watch television or use the internet or do their laundry and simply be in a safe and caring environment.

I remember the feeling of hope I had when the lady from the block house reassured me and I knew I was not alone and there were people in this world I could turn to.