Groups join to help homeless

Published 10:44 pm Saturday, September 11, 2010

The very nature of homelessness can make helping those most directly affected by it a tough task. But a group of caring people will get together again this week to see if there’s some way they can improve the lives of people without a roof over their heads, without even an address.

Last year, almost 60 homeless people were aided in the inaugural Homeless Assistance Day by the Western Tidewater Continuum of Care Council.

The council gathered dozens of government agencies, charity organizations and others who provide service to those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless for a day of helping at the Suffolk National Guard Armory. Those who came ranged from children to the elderly.

The event was so successful that it’s being held again this year on Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. More organizations will be on hand to provide assistance.

“Our goal with the homeless assist day is to kind of be a one-stop shopping option for people that are in need of services,” said Andrea Clontz, the chair of the Western Tidewater Continuum of Care Council.

The day will feature local social services departments, veterans’ organizations, homeless shelters, housing authorities, legal aid services and more that cater to homeless people. In addition, attendees can get basic health screenings such as blood pressure, visit the on-site beauty salon, get free lunch courtesy of Subway and take away a bag full of toiletry items and a first aid kit.

“We want to help people that are homeless or at risk so they can find some resources that are available locally,” said Stacy Richardson, event coordinator for the Western Tidewater Continuum of Care Council. “These are services they may need immediately for that day or something that can help them plan for the future. Basically, this is about increasing their independence.”

A number of churches also will be on hand to volunteer for the event. The Obici Healthcare Foundation and United Way of South Hampton Roads Isle of Wight chapter sponsor the event financially.

Organizers are advertising the event with banners, fliers at churches, event postings and word of mouth, Clontz said.

There will be free transportation to the Suffolk National Guard Armory, 2761 Godwin Blvd., from locations in Franklin, Smithfield, Windsor and downtown Suffolk. In Franklin, the shuttle will leave Franklin Cooperative Ministries, 511 N. Main St., at 9 a.m.

In Smithfield, the shuttle will leave Main Street Baptist Church, 517 Main St., at 9 a.m.

In Windsor, the shuttle will leave Windsor Christian Church, 4 N. Court St., at 9:45 a.m.

Pickups in downtown Suffolk will occur at the Salvation Army thrift store, 157 W. Washington St., at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., and at the Health and Human Services building, 135 Hall Ave., at 10:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.