Before the county can help the homeless in our area, they need to know who is living out there. That’s why once every year, volunteers set out to count the homeless and determine the biggest problems they face.
This year’s Point in Time count will happen on Thursday, Jan. 28, and organizers say they need volunteers and donations.
The event is more than just a headcount. Organizers for the South Snohomish County count will set up a day center at the Good Shepherd Baptist Church, located at 6915 196th Street Southwest in Lynnwood. There, anyone who shows up can get a free breakfast and lunch, as well as help with medical issues, insurance and hygiene products.
It gives the homeless in our area a chance to tell experts about the problems they face so they can get the best help.
“The most important part is this helps our community,” Becca Lang, of the YWCA, said. “They’re our neighbors in Lynnwood and they add a lot to our community, so we need to know what they need and how they want the community to support them.”
Last year, 966 people were counted in Snohomish County without stable housing. Of those, 81 people were in the South County area including Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Edmonds and Mill Creek.
Point in Time organizers have the biggest need for volunteers to go out into the streets throughout Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace and Edmonds to count the homeless who don’t come to the day center. Volunteers will report to the day center to go through a half-hour training session before going out in groups of two to four to survey homeless in a specific area.
While walking around, volunteers will also deliver donated coats, gloves and hygiene products.
“The best way for someone to help is to volunteer, step out of their comfort zone a little bit and actually talk to the people who are on the street,” Lang said.
There are several two-hour shifts available for volunteers, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Organizers also need donations of items to give to the people being surveyed. The most needed items are hand warmers, flashlights and hygiene products, including soap, shampoo and toothpaste. Donated items can be dropped off at the YWCA Pathways for Women, located at 6027 208th Street Southwest in Lynnwood.
Lang says any way you want to help makes a difference.
“This is one step our community can take to gather together and really stand up for people who need their voices to be heard,” she said.
If you’re interested in volunteering, you are asked to contact Lang by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling her at 425-258-2766 x126.
-By Natalie Covate