A New Perspective

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Homelessness

Contributors: Beth Servais, Volunteer and Special Events Coordinator at Homeless Connections, Rhonda Hannemann, Community Development Staff at United Way Fox Cities and Tony Gonzalez, Vice President of Community Development at United Way Fox Cities

How well do you think you know our community? You might be surprised how your perspective could change through just one experience…

Twice each year, Homeless Connections (formerly Emergency Shelter of the Fox Valley) and members of the Fox Cities Housing Coalition recruit volunteers to participate in a Point in Time Count, a community-wide count of individuals experiencing homelessness. The next count will begin on Wednesday, January 28 and continue through Thursday morning. The summer 2014 Point in Time Count revealed that there were 11 people sleeping outside and 325 in shelters or transitional housing, totaling 336 people experiencing homelessness that night.

Rhonda Hannemann, Community Development Staff at United Way Fox Cities reflected on her experience volunteering for the Point in Time Count, "It was eye-opening to learn of the hidden (and not so hidden) places in our community where people may be 'camping out.'  Now, when I go by these various locations, I have a new perspective because I know people who have no home may be living there."

In addition to the count, a Point in Time Resource Picnic will be held on Thursday, January 29, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Riverview Gardens Community Center. The picnic will offer services such as seeing health care professionals to members of our community who may not have regular access to those resources.

You may think that volunteering for events like these would be disheartening, but many volunteers walk away with a better understanding of the struggles some of our neighbors face. Tony Gonzalez, Vice President of Community Development at United Way Fox Cities said, "This experience opened my eyes further to the immense struggles that homelessness and poverty presents. It also caused me to count my many blessings."

Are you interested in volunteering for the Point in Time Count or Resource Picnic? Download the volunteer information. To sign up, please contact Beth Servais, Volunteer & Special Events Coordinator at Homeless Connections by Monday, January 19th.