In January there were 90 students in the Richmond County School System who were classified as homeless and the number keeps going up.
Richmond County Schools Homeless Coordinator Paulette Wall is helping to organize a Homelessness Awareness Resource Fair, and reaching out to community members and organizations for assistance in addressing the issue.
“We are asking churches, agencies and individuals who have information or resources available to help the homeless and potentially homeless population to set up booths at the Fair,” said Wall. “We are inviting families who are experiencing homelessness, living in hotels and displaced persons to attend the event and learn about assistance that is available in the community.”
The event will be held at the Falling Creek Gymnasium, in Rockingham on Saturday, March 19 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.
The Homelessness Awareness Resource Fair is a collaboration between Richmond County Schools and Union County Head Start.
“We hope to assist families with eliminating obstacles, even when they don’t meet our domestic violence or sexual assault criteria,” said Kelly Cunningham, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Advocate for New Horizons. “If we don’t have the resources available to help a family directly, we will help them make the necessary connections within the community so that they can get that help.”
New Horizons will be participating in the Fair, and collaborates with the school system to help make information on resources available.
Organizers are looking to agencies like Social Services, that can provide information on assistance programs like food stamps; childcare providers, that may be able to assist in-need families with funding support information; Housing Authorities, that have information about Section 8 Housing; compassionate care clinics, that can help those in need find information about affordable health care options; and transitional housing services, as well as churches and other community members who have information available regarding resources for homeless families.
“King’s Gate International Church will be setting up a booth,” said Wall. “It’s not just government agencies and health care operations who can help these people. The Church runs a homeless ministry and collects food and clothing for those in need. I’m sure there are more Churches and community-run organizations that have similar programs, and we would love for them to participate in the event.”
Kishi Tillman, Family Services Manager for Union County Head Start is coordinating bookings, and anyone interested in setting up a booth can contact her at 704-283-1114 ext 223. Paulette Wall will also be available to answer questions about the event and can be reached at 910-995-6869.
“We are hoping to bring awareness to the County about the rising number of homeless families, with children who are in the school system,” said Wall. “There is no shelter available for women and children, at this time, and we hope through our efforts to raise awareness we can change that. Women are often the primary caregivers of children, and we hope to link them with the resources that are currently here, as well as help the community understand that there is a growing need for more of these resources to be available to women and children. Our goal is to help these families transition from homelessness to stability.”
Staff writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 18, or by email firstname.lastname@example.org