A Very Real Issue in the Fox Cities

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Point in Time Volunteers

Point in Time volunteers prepare to go out into the community
to get a count of the number of people who are without housing.

Contributor: Nanci Micke, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at United Way Fox Cities

Twice per year, I head out in the dark of the night to tramp through the wooded areas in our parks, climb under the sides of bridges, walk through parking lots and check out storage units. I do this as a volunteer for the Point in Time Survey - a study conducted to help determine the number of people in our community who are homeless. The survey is done at the same time each year, all across the country, to provide a benchmark on the state of homelessness in each community.

As volunteers, we go through training to know what we are looking for and how to respond if we find anyone who needs help. This past summer, we found a spot in the woods that had remnants of a fire ring, hammock style bed and sitting area. It makes the issue of homelessness very real to see the replacement "home" that has been fashioned when a traditional home is no longer available.

We also heard the story of a family that had been staying at a long-term motel, but was ousted because higher rates could be charged for guests attending a local event. We talked to a family living in their car with pets, waiting for an available apartment. As volunteers, we have new appreciation for how blessed we are to have a roof over our heads, and how a few cruel twists of fate could change our lives. When I crawled into my own bed at 3:00 a.m., it was with a prayer for those who do not have the same comfort.

Please consider volunteering for the January or July Point in Time count. The Emergency Shelter of the Fox Valley and the Members of the Fox Cities Housing Coalition organize the count each year. Volunteers go out in teams and always have a team leader that is experienced. You will be impressed with the efficiency of the project, and, it will also provide a different perspective on an issue that is very real in the Fox Cities. For more information on the Point in Time Survey, please contact Chris Lashock, Client Services Coordinator (chrislashock@esfv.org) or Beth Servais, Volunteer & Special Events Coordinator (bethservais@esfv.org) at the Emergency Shelter of the Fox Valley.