The Road Home’s mission is to help people step out of homelessness and back into our community. As I’ve thought about that mission, I tend to think about all the individuals and families that come through our doors, and the doors of other shelters in Utah. Yet when driving around Salt Lake I wondered about all the people who were not coming through our doors. Who are they? What can I do to help them?
The annual Point in Time Count (PIT) is one of the first steps in answering those questions. On Thursday morning at 4:00am, 75 volunteers and staff went out on the streets to outreach to unsheltered homeless individuals. In just the first day of the three day PIT count, these awesome volunteers and staff were able to make 91 contacts. As they talked with each individual, outreach staff and volunteers were able to clarify some of the needs of our unsheltered neighbors and in many cases, provide immediate relief of some of their needs. There were many touching stories from this day. Some were as simple as being able to provide sleeping bags and warm clothing, and others were more memorable.
One such notable story entailed encountering a family of four living in their car. Mom is working to try and provide for the family, dad is in school, and both are trying to raise two young children. The Road Home staff is now in contact with this family and making arrangements to get them into our Rapid Re-housing program as soon as possible.
On the other side of the city, another outreach team discovered two individuals in a rugged, sloped section of Memory Grove. Both were wet and cold from living outside, with no real form of shelter. One had slipped and broken his ankle, earlier in the night, and neither individual had been in a position to get help. These two individuals had been stuck in the area for hours. It was only when our volunteers found them that 911 was called to get them the help they desperately needed. It took six emergency personnel to get the individual out and to the hospital, likely saving his life.
Whether it was a brief contact or a life-saving one, each encounter provided us the great honor of helping the less fortunate in our community, and gives me hope that we can continue to work towards our mission to really help each and every one of our homeless neighbors to step out of homelessness and back into our. . . my community.