Point In Time Count – Jefferson County

To volunteer in Jefferson County contact elliejohnson@wvceh.org or 304-620-7720. If there is no answer, leave a voicemail with your name and number.

The 2016 Point In Time Count of individuals and families experiencing homelessness is scheduled to take place throughout West Virginia from 4:00 pm on February 2, until 3:59 pm on February 3. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development bases its assistance to area homeless services on the results, making an accurate count vitally important.

The West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness is seeking volunteers in the Eastern Panhandle to help with this effort. Time invested in this project is the most valuable contribution that volunteers can make to helping our homeless neighbors. Volunteers will be trained and will sent out in teams to service locations.

Background

Training: There is a 30 minute training video that must be watched prior to surveying any clients. Here is a link to that video. (The video may list the date that was postponed, but the event is the 2nd and 3rd of February) Volunteers who do not watch it prior to the event are free to come and help out, as the training video will play on a loop in a separate room at the mission. Once a volunteer gets back to the point at which they came into the training, they are good to be sent out with a team.

Safety: Volunteers will be surveying clients who are homeless, outside or in service locations like shelters, libraries, and meal sites. Volunteers will not be alone at any point. All volunteer teams are expected to be three individuals minimum. The training video includes detailed safety information. For both safety and confidentiality reasons, all volunteers must be at least 18 years of age.

The Task: The task is to count all of the homeless individuals in Berkeley County. This count provides a snapshot to the federal Gov’t to determine the relative need of communities all across the country. Every county in the US is required to do some sort of count, and a county with such a vast need as our own is entirely dependent on volunteer assistance. Teams will be sent out by myself to a specific region in the county. They will have a map of the region and get some insight from me about where to look. Once a person is found they will be surveyed and encouraged to come to the rescue mission for someplace warm to eat, receive medical examination if necessary, and seek help from other community services. Volunteers should dress very warmly and be prepared to spend time outside.

The Purpose: HUD, the federal funder for most of the area’s homeless services, requires this count in order to know where to send assistance dollars. The need is great here, and HUD knows that, but they cannot divert funding to Martinsburg without the accurate and thorough count of our homeless neighbors. Further, the information gathered from these individuals will allow people like me to reach out to them and help them to begin putting back together the pieces of their lives. Time invested on this day for this count is more financially valuable than any other volunteer time for our homeless population. This is the biggest bang for your volunteer effort.

The Experience: Many of our volunteers found that the experience of really gathering a story from a homeless person was a big event in their lives. The stories that they relayed to me where often relayed with tears. Volunteers sometimes do not find anyone in their area, and that is a cause for celebration. Other areas are more densely populated and volunteers find themselves surprised as they are introduced to a part of their town that they had never known existed.

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