What is the Help Card app?
The Help Card app is based on the original concept from medical, social work, and pharmacy students (M.C. Lu, A. Hazra, A. Melillo) who volunteered at HOMES Clinic (www.homes-clinic.com) in 1999. These students found themselves continuously searching for the same resource information over and over with different patients in similar situations. They decided to start compiling information on those frequently-used resources and eventually published their work in 2002 under the guidance of Dr. David Buck and Dr. Dana Clark, titled “Blueprints: A Collection of Health Care, Housing & Social Resources Available to Houston's Homeless.” The publication doubled as a fundraiser for HOMES Clinic as students sold copies of the resource book to fellow students and health professionals.
Healthcare for the Homeless Houston (HHH), the parent organization of HOMES Clinic, then took over the project and converted it into a “services card” which was maintained and updated by an HHH case manager, Sharon Epstein. Dr. Buck, the founder of HOMES Clinic and president and founder of HHH, then passed the “services card” project on to the Coalition for the Homeless to maintain, due to their connections and knowledge of resources available to the homeless population.
The Coalition then transformed the project into what is known as the Help Card, designed as a single page front-and-back sheet with contact information for organizations providing various services for the homeless community. The difficulty with all of these iterations of the project is that these organizations and resources are frequently changing so information quickly becomes outdated.
With the integration of technology into our everyday lives, we thought it best to create a digital replica of the Help Card in order to expand the volume of information included and streamline the process of keeping all information up to date. This has been a collaboration between the Coalition for the Homeless and UT Houston Medical School student Camille Keenan as part of her 2014 Houston-Galveston Albert Schweitzer Fellowship project. For information on the Albert-Schweitzer Fellowship please visit their website at http://asfhg.org
We realize that many homeless individuals do not have access to the internet, but we hope that this resource will also be used by case managers, social workers, community members, non-profit employees and anyone else who comes into contact with homeless individuals to provide them with more up-to-date and individualized information. After talking with individuals and establishing their needs, specific resources that match their situation can be found on the Helpcard and printed for the homeless individual to pursue.
The Help Card is only one of the ways in which the Coalition for the Homeless is making a difference for the homeless population of Houston. For more information on the Coalition visit their website at http://www.homelesshouston.org.