Photo by Abby “KaraVorkian” Gengozian
Several months ago, 8-year-old Elie Nowlan, otherwise know as Electric Penguin in the Atlanta Derby Brats, wrote a letter to Mayor Reed to ask him to help end homelessness. She was made aware of the problem during a project at school in which third graders learned how to write letters that can make a real-world difference. Through Vets Connect, eligible homeless veterans receive housing vouchers that cover the cost of rent for one year. However, costs associated with moving into a home that are not covered by vouchers. Security and utility deposits, furniture and basic household goods, etc. can easily create barriers that can hinder the transition from homelessness for these veterans. Elie’s class raised money and donated household items to help veterans close this funding gap. However, Elie was not happy leaving it at that. She was so moved by this project that she decided, on her own, to donate 2 months of her own allowance, on top of what the class raised, to a veteran through Vets Connect. The veteran that Elie and her class helped has kept in communication with the class and has done very well, in part, thanks to the generosity of Elie and her classmates. In the upcoming month, Elie has been selected to read her letter aloud when Mayor Reed is expected to visit her classroom to personally thank the students for their caring efforts in the homelessness crusade. When asked what was the most important thing she learned from this whole process, Elie responded. “All people are equal and no one should be left out. We need to take care of each other.”
Below is the letter Elie wrote to Mayor Reed:
Dear Mayor Reed,
I am Elie and I am writing to you about homeless people. I am doing this because I want you to try to help the number of homeless veterans in Atlanta every night to go down. I care about this because if I were a homeless veteran I would be sad because I didn’t do anything wrong to be homeless.
What I learned is that over 1200 homeless veterans are in Atlanta every night with no roof over their heads to shelter them. They have no food, no money, no home and no medical care. Also, most homeless veterans are army people and some can have brain injuries. Homeless people are people just like us.
What home means to me is warmth, air conditioning, a roof and a couch. I also like reading books. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like playing outside. I sometimes like to swing. I have two dogs and one is 19 so I sometimes imagine he is an old homeless veteran.
I think you have more Stand Downs. You should do that because more homeless veterans can get medical care, homes and love. I also think you should get more people out on the streets looking for homeless veterans and taking them to Stand Down more and more often. The step I will take is this, I will help homeless veterans by donating money to Stand Down.
I am writing about this because I care about homeless veterans. I hope you can do everything you can to help them.
Thank you so much,