JAN 24-26: Volunteer to make a difference for homeless people

Yes, you have to be brave. In fact, this might be one of the most intimidating volunteer opportunities of the year.

You’ll have to go under bridges, walk through the woods, knock on the windows of cars and more to get a count and some data on as many homeless people as you can find. You won’t ever be alone and you are trained to do it, but nobody is going to tell you it’s easy.

And yet, it could be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things you’ve ever done.

Every year, the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) conducts a point-in-time count of the number of homeless people in Travis County. “Point-in-time” because the number of people living on the streets, in cars, in motels and other non-home situations changes every day. This count is vital for assessing the number of homeless individuals and families in Travis County and the data is reported to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It’s also shared with agencies and nonprofits across Central Texas in order to understand and address the need.

The count cannot happen without volunteers like you. I hope you’ll consider it. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Go to this site and learn a little more about ECHO and the Point-in-Time Count.

2. Sign up for a training day, Saturday, January 11th from 10 am to noon; Wednesday, Jan. 15th from 6:30 to 8:30 pm or Friday, January 24th from 11 am to 1 pm, all at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church, 606 West 15th Street.

3. Choose a shift:

• Shift 1: Friday, January 24th from 3-8 pm
• Shift 2: Friday, January 24th from 5-10 pm
• Shift 3: Saturday, January 26th from 3-7 am
4. Go over the Volunteer Handbook for more information.
Last year, the count revealed 2,090 homeless individuals with 278 of those  living “unsheltered.” Imagine there being almost 300 people sleeping outside or in a cold car tonight. When you volunteer to help count them, you’re helping all of them get one step closer to getting off the streets.
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