POINT PLEASANT — The staff at the Mason County Homeless Shelter have been busy preparing for their upcoming Point-In-Time Count to be held this month.
John Machir, Mason County Homeless Shelter/Simms housing director, shared this year’s count will begin on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 4 p.m., ending on Thursday, Jan. 24, 4 p.m. During this time, volunteers along with the homeless shelter staff, will be collecting information on the homeless population in Mason County. This annual count is held to help communities identify the number of homeless individuals and families in the county, measure the needs of those experiencing homelessness, and provide direction for future development of services for those afflicted by homelessness. The results gathered from this count will provide agencies within Mason County with important information regarding future funding to help provide services to those experiencing homelessness.
Volunteers for the count are an important aspect, Machir shared they are still seeking more volunteers for this year’s count. He is needing more individuals from the areas of Mason, Hartford, New Haven, and Letart. In order to be a volunteer, individuals must be at least 18 years of age, they must sign a waiver, and they will need to represent a cross-sampling of each of the following communities in Mason County: Glenwood/Ashton/Upland; Apple Grove/Gallipolis Ferry; Henderson/Southside; Kingtown to Flatrock; Point Pleasant; Mason/Clifton/West Columbia; New Haven/Letart; Leon. The recommended volunteers may come from volunteer fire departments, DOH workers, AEP and other utility workers, guidance counselors in schools, ministers and congregations, social workers, DHHR workers, home health workers, or workers from the health care system.
The volunteers will be undergoing trainings prior to count to help prepare them. They will be equipped with skills to reach out to and assist those individuals experiencing homelessness. The trainings are set for Jan. 16, 17, and 21 at 5 p.m. at the Simms Housing building which is located at 700 22nd St. in Point Pleasant.
“We have also been very generously blessed by the community, we have more than we will need for our Point-In-Time Count,” said Machir. “We had requested hats, socks, gloves, blankets and we’ve received them in so much abundance that in addition to what we’ll need for the Point-In-Time Count, we’ll retain some for the shelter, but we’ll be able to take care of at least 50 homeless veterans with the stuff that has been donated by the community. So, all in all we’re going to be able to serve nearly 100 people.”
In conjunction with the count, staff at the homeless shelter have worked with those from the Mason County Board of Education to hold magnet events for the youth in the county. The magnet events will have activities, prizes, and refreshments for the children and their families who attend. These events will be youth-focused, planned, and executed by homeless and non-homeless youth under careful adult supervision.The homeless children and their families will be offered the option of participating in the count which will be held in a separate room adjacent to the activities to provide these parents and children privacy during the administration of the survey.
Machir commented they have not have acquired data on the youth experiencing homelessness before this year.
Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.