The co-founder and director of Archangel Raphael’s Mission (ARM) is assembling the leaders of other organizations who are using hospitality as a way to dispense dignity among the most vulnerable in our midst to swap notes, dispel myths and, perhaps most importantly, sound a clarion call for help.
“It’s a Bat signal to volunteers and funders in the private sector to show that there is a class of organizations, whether they be grassroots or they be extremely well established, that really get it,” El-Maraghy said. “Dignity is the pathway forward for that, and that outreach capability is the way that we’re able to address those needs in a very human way.
“We need your help,” he added. “We need other organizations who share our perspective to join in. We need members of the audience to donate and volunteer. We need the local, private industry to invest in our work and to sponsor our work.”
Among the panelists for Saturday’s forum will be Robert Foran, a member of the advisory board at ARM, which focuses much of its efforts on providing hygiene services through a mobile shower unit.
Other participants will be Melina Morris of Bombas, a New York-based organization that donates one pair of socks for each pair sold; Brian McGovern of North Jersey Community Research Initiative, which has a 35-year history of providing HIV/AIDS care and treatment to individuals in northern New Jersey; Shabana of Covenant House New Jersey, whose mission is to provide housing and supportive services to youth ages 18-24 experiencing homelessness; and Richard Vernon of Shower Power, a New York-based group that provides hygiene kits and shower access.
El-Maraghy said these panelists are kindred spirits through their focus on providing dignity through hygiene and service. But it will be fascinating to hear them speak about what they are doing and how they are doing it.
“Probably the most important part is understanding the interconnectivity between all these things,” he said. “Generally speaking, a lot of folks have this perception that such-and-such is a homeless service organization, such-and-such is an LGBT organization. The reality is all these groups have a ton of interconnectivity.”
For instance, domestic violence is often cited as a cause of homelessness. So, someone who identifies as LGBT could be especially vulnerable to sexual violence and therefore be vulnerable to homelessness and therefore could be vulnerable to mental health issues, El-Maraghy said.
The Dignity Summit will be moderated by Dr. Julia Sass Rubin, an associate professor and director of public policy program at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers.
Doors open at about 1 p.m., and the Dignity Summit is scheduled to run for about 2½ hours.
There will be a VIP reception from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. with a bottomless mimosa breakfast celebrating ARM’s work and the panelists. This reception will be open only to VIP ticket holders. VIP ticket sales end Friday at 10 a.m.
Student tickets are a $7, and students must enter the code “student” at top right of the box office site. General admission tickets are $10 (less raffle tickets) or $25 (more raffle tickets).