As we work to develop the South County Services Center to provide a permanent home for the South County People’s Kitchen, and co-location of services, we are also working to provide immediate relief to some of the most formidable challenges faced by those who are homeless and facing poverty. We are assessing current services, and identifying opportunities for collaboration to provide for immediate needs that are currently not being met. You can join us as we prepare for the coming winter and special challenges of the cold weather months:
How You Can Help
We are seeking funds to provide assistance this winter to meet immediate needs (including a winter warming center, clothing, laundry and other immedaite needs such as transportation assistance).
Winter Warming Center – a winter warming center is just that, a place to get warm during exceptionally cold and rainy nights. We estimate the center will operate about 35 nights during the winter months, based on weather projections. A major need in order to ensure the success of the warming center is to secure a location or locations, which we are hopeful to have nailed down by the end of December.
We currently are seeking financial support to make the warming center a reality, including funds for professional staff oversight, hot dinners and healthy morning breakfasts, and transportation. We estimate costs to be $600 per night to operate the center (including food and transportation). Additionally we seek to provide separate lodging for homeless families, estimated to be $250 per night (to accommodate an estimated five families).
It is estimated that on any given night there are approximately 900 South County residents living without homes; an estimated half are children. Currently the South County has no overnight shelter for those who are homeless. This can be particularly tragic in the winter months as homelessness and health are intimately interwoven. Homeless people are 3 to 4 times more likely to become ill than housed people. People who live on the streets are at high risk for frostbite, immersion foot and hypothermia. The risk of death from other causes is increased eightfold in people who have experienced these exposure related conditions. Life expectancy in the homeless is estimated between 42-52 years, compared to 78 years in the general population.
Clothing and Laundry Vouchers – A consistent message reported from the homeless community is that they are challenged to get clean clothes, or wash those that they have. We have developed a clothing voucher program with two area thrift stores (St. Barnabas and St. Patrick’s) to provide clothing assistance. The clothing program will include a career wear component for those needing interview and professional attire. Should you have career wear to donate, please deliver to the St. Barnabas Episcopal Church Thrift Shop on Brisco Road.
We are also finalizing details with an area laundry mat in order to provide homeless neighbors with laundry assistance. Initially we will launch the laundry program to serve area families who are homeless. Your support is needed to help pay for these services.
Immediate Needs (including Gasoline and Transportation Assistance) – Funds are needed to provide for a wide range of immediate needs for the homeless. We are developing a program targeting those who are in case management, seeking work or who are already employed, and trying save the necessary funds for housing or other challenges in order to change their circumstances. One of the greatest challenges currently, for those who are living in their cars, is gasoline. At $4.00 per gallon, getting to and from work, or traveling to obtain services and food, can be a significant obstacle. Likewise, many need assistance with bus transportation.
Coats, Sleeping Bags and Winter Care Kits – There are a variety of ways you can help with in-kind products that can provide relief to a homeless neighbor this winter. Some examples would be a cold weather coats, sleeping bags, and winter care kits. We are seeking support to provide these needed items. At this time however, we do not have the necessary space to store any donated items, so will need to coordinate collection and distribution in advance of receiving your gift. Click here for a detail of ideas that we have developed for the winter care kits.
Volunteers are needed to be “on call” to prepare and serve dinners, cold breakfasts, and for additional support to make the Warming Center a reality.. Even if you are not able to provide a host location, your assistance volunteering to support the Center is vitally needed.
We also seek support to advocate on behalf of the homeless and those facing poverty. Those who are without a home, without a phone, and without a mailing address are often unable to advocate for themselves. You can help be their voice.