County gath­ers re­sources to help the homeless, less for­tu­nate

Com­mu­nity Re­source Day of­fers free help, as­sis­tance

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com

On Oct. 5, the Charles County Homeless and Emer­gency Shel­ter Com­mit­tee hosted its an­nual Com­mu­nity Re­source Day at the Greater Wal­dorf Jaycees Com­mu­nity Cen­ter. Co­rae Young, Life Styles Inc. as­sis­tant direc­tor and co-chair of the com­mit­tee, said the event makes it pos­si­ble to serve the com­mu­nity at one lo­ca­tion for one day.

The event is spon­sored each year to as­sist the homeless pop­u­la­tion in the com­mu­nity with a one-stop shop to ac­cess local ser­vices that are avail­able to them. This year’s event in­cluded more than 50 ser­vices pro­vided by var­i­ous local de­part­ments and or­ga­ni­za­tions in the county. There were vol­un­teers on hand to help nav­i­gate clients through the agen­cies par­tic­i­pat­ing that day.

“Any­one who is homeless, couch surf­ing, liv­ing in a tent, or is about to be evicted, can come in to­day and see how we can con­nect them with ser­vices,” Young said. “This is not just about brochure shop­ping, it’s about meet­ing each per­son’s needs by con­nect­ing them with hous­ing, ed­u­ca­tion, health ser­vices, food and cloth­ing. We also pro­vide them trans­porta­tion to those ser­vices if nec­es­sary.”

Young said the com­mit­tee has made some ma­jor

im­prove­ments to this year’s re­source day.

“Some of the com­plaints we’ve heard form our clients is in re­gards to trans­porta­tion, be­ing able to go from one agency to the other is chal­leng­ing for them,” Young said. “We have VanGo tick­ets and gas cards avail­able to get to a fol­low-up ap­point­ment for fu­ture ser­vices. We have a larger homeless pop­u­la­tion that is grow­ing and a lot of peo­ple who are just liv­ing on the edge. I put my­self in the shoes of the peo­ple we serve so this day is about do­ing bet­ter.”

Michael Bellis, United Way of Charles County ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor and co-chair of the com­mit­tee, said many vis­i­tors were able to pre-reg­is­ter peo­ple for ser­vices, re­ceive flu shots, get HIV test­ing, hair cuts, birth cer­tifi­cates and sign-up for Safe Nights regis­tra­tion.

“I’m so glad peo­ple con­tinue to come out and it con­tin­ues to grow ev­ery year, but more­over I’m sad­dened that we have to con­tinue to have this day,” Bellis said. “I wish there was no need for this. We want to ac­com­plish our mis­sion. We want this prob­lem to be solved so that we’re serv­ing less peo­ple. Un­for­tu­nately the need is grow­ing in our com­mu­nity. The gap be­tween the haves and the have nots in our com­mu­nity, that chasm is only widen­ing. I wish it wasn’t needed but in the mean­time they are re­ceiv­ing the re­sources they need.”

Bev­erly Brown, Charles County Depart­ment of Health fis­cal ac­count clerk su­per­vi­sor, helped cre­ate free birth cer­tifi­cates for the less for­tu­nate. She was able to help 70 peo­ple last year and hoped to help over 100 this year.

“For the last five years our depart­ment has been giv­ing birth cer­tifi­cates to the homeless,” Brown said. “They must have to have an ID and be born in the state of Mary­land and there’s no charge. Plus if they don’t have an ID, there is a voucher we give them to stop by the health depart­ment to pick it up later. Once they do this they can go ap­ply for hous­ing and other pro­grams. Typ­i­cally it’s $25 for a birth cer­tifi­cate and they get it here for free to­day.”

Nicole Quiros and Jac­que­line Quan of Feli’s Sa­lon & Spa in Wal­dorf were seen giv­ing free hair­cuts to the less for­tu­nate, or­ga­nized by Brid­gette Young from Blades School of Hair De­sign in California, Md.

Young said the free hair­cuts make the peo­ple who come in feel bet­ter about them­selves.

La Plata res­i­dents Lorene Gar­ner and her son Joseph Gar­ner re­ceived free hair cuts from the vol­un­teers and were truly pleased with the fi­nal reveal.

“These girls are such a bless­ing,” Lorene said. “When they said free hair­cuts I said I would take a chance and Brid­get did really good. A lot of times you don’t have any­where to go and they’re here giv­ing us nice hair­cuts on this nice day. I’ve had bad ex­pe­ri­ences be­fore with get­ting my hair cut but she has ac­tu­ally asked ques­tions about how I want my hair to look.”

“We just want to give back to the com­mu­nity for the peo­ple who can’t really af­ford hair­cuts,” Quiros said. “We love what we do and it feels great.”

Nicole Quiros, a hair stylist at Feli’s Sa­lon & Spa, gives La Plata res­i­dent Joseph Gar­ner a hair cut at Com­mu­nity Re­source Day at the Wal­dorf Jaycees on Oct. 5.

Terry An­to­nioli, a nurse with the Charles County Depart­ment of Health, gives a pa­tient a flu shot at the Com­mu­nity Re­source Day at the Wal­dorf Jaycees Com­mu­nity Cen­ter on Oct. 5.

STAFF PHOTOS BY TIF­FANY WAT­SON

On Oct. 5, Brid­gette Young of Blades School of Hair De­sign in California, Md., gives La Plata res­i­dent Lorene Gar­ner a hair cut at Com­mu­nity Re­source Day.

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