MCN seeking volunteers to help with annual homeless count

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LEWISTON — The Maine Military Community Network, which supports Maine military families in their communities, is looking for volunteers in every town in Maine to count the homeless in the annual Point-in-Time survey scheduled for the night of Wednesday, Jan. 28.

The national survey, which is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is an attempt to count and collect basic information about everyone who is experiencing homelessness on one night of the year.

In Maine, the information collected helps the state and individual communities develop a better understanding of the size and scope of homelessness, and help with long range plans to end and prevent homelessness in Maine.

In addition to seeking out people who are sleeping in their cars, camping in the woods, or staying in other places that are not suitable for human habitation, volunteers provide hot coffee, sandwiches, hats, gloves, or blankets and lists of local resources that may be of help to the people they encounter.

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Last year, Catholic Charities’ PATH program, in conjunction with New Beginnings, Preble Street, Tri-County Mental Health Services, Americorp/Vista and the Lewiston/Auburn Maine Military and Community Network assisted in the statewide survey.

The count successfully located 98 unsheltered individuals across the state. This year the organizers want to increase their efforts and need volunteers to help.

In addition to volunteers who will go out into communities to count, there are other ways people can help.

Agencies and organizations can allow a surveyor to be placed at their offices between Jan. 28 and Jan. 30 to provide any homeless people employed there an opportunity to participate in the survey.

Agencies can also place fliers about the survey, which include a call-in phone number. Fliers will be provided.

If you are willing to participate in the survey or if you have any questions, contact Janice Lara-Hewey either by e-mail at: jlarahewey@ccmaine.org or by phone at 272-9210.

MaineHousing will coordinate training and distribution of materials in January once local groups have identified their volunteers and developed their outreach plans.

For more information about the local survey effort and the work of the Maine Military Community Network, contact Jerry DeWitt at 783-4663, ext. 228, 576-0376, or jdewitt@tcmhs.org. Information is also available at mainemcn.org.

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