Spring into action to end homelessness at SOS luncheon

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published April 16, 2014

That sounds like a life lesson that may have been taught to many of us by our mothers at one point or another. On May 10, show Mom you heard her by treating her to a day of shopping, fun and philanthropy at the annual spring luncheon to benefit South Oakland Shelter.

The fundraiser, held at the Birmingham Athletic Club in Bloomfield Hills, will once again feature more than 20 unique and local vendors and artists selling jewelry, handbags, clothing, gift items and more. Guests will be treated to lunch, a cocktail if they so choose, a raffle and lots of fun with the girls.

According to event co-chair Lynn Oates, the event has always been scheduled close to Mother’s Day, so ladies will have the perfect excuse to treat their mom, or any special lady in their life, to an indulgence.

“They’re small boutique vendors with everything from accessories to home décor. It’s a lovely lunch at the Birmingham Athletic Club, and it’s just a really nice day out — and you get to help a great cause at the same time.”

Proceeds from the luncheon will help the efforts of South Oakland Shelter, which works to eliminate homelessness in Oakland County.

SOS Director of Development Megan Holt said that with so many programs at the shelter, there are a lot of endeavors to support.

“We provide emergency (shelter), housing and supportive services for families and individuals in our community. We have a housing-first model, which means we get people into housing initially and then we deal with other issues in their life, including substance abuse and mental health.”

SOS rotates its shelter service to a new church congregation each week, working with more than 60 congregations around the county. The organization feeds their homeless shelter clients three meals a day, provides any help they might need — from haircuts to career counseling — and then works with them to find permanent housing and mitigate existing challenges that could lead back to homelessness.

From week to week, Holt said, there is a huge amount of effort that goes into helping homeless individuals who are right in our own backyard. After all, Holt said, on any given night, there are around 3,000 individuals in Oakland County without a place to call home, 500 of whom are children. SOS has served 32,988 meals to those people and has given 10,824 nights of shelter to those who otherwise would go without.

“I think it’s an amazing organization,” said Oates on why she continues to volunteer for SOS. “I think that with SOS itself and in conjunction with all the churches, they’re not only able to give shelter to homeless families, but they do so much more to get them back on their feet. It’s a unique and amazing organization.”

As a nonprofit, SOS depends on fundraising events like the spring luncheon to collect the money needed to continue its work.

“We have a very ambitious goal to end homelessness in Oakland County,” said Holt. “A lot of our clients don’t fit into the common stereotypes of homeless people: they’re former displaced autoworkers, former company executives and people who have attained advanced degrees and higher education. (Fundraising) is really our way to continue to raise awareness in the community about homelessness and allows us to move our efforts forward.”

For the first time, the spring luncheon will have a “Sip & Shop” option that allows guests to partake in the boutique shopping and cocktail hour without lunch for a reduced price.

Tickets are $50 for the luncheon, beginning at 10 a.m., and $30 for shopping, which begins at 1 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.SouthOaklandShelter.org or contact Megan Holt at (248) 809-3773.The Birmingham Athletic Club is located at 4033 W. Maple Road in Bloomfield Hills.