Preparing for the Point in Time Count, the annual survey of the homeless, is a lesson in faith.
You never know who is going to show up at 6 a.m., in good weather and bad, in January, to volunteer to help with the count.
“The volunteers always come through,” said Amanda Tindell, outreach director of the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Endeavors and a member of the Central Texas Homeless Coalition.
Tindell will be coordinating the Point in Time Count in Temple and Belton with Staci Masson, executive director of Feed My Sheep.
Ebony Jackson, interim director of Bell County Indigent Health Services and president of the Central Texas Homeless Coalition, indicated she had the same misgivings when it came time to gather up all of the items to go in the goody bags to be handed out to the individuals who take the survey on Thursday.
On the table were boxes of sandwich crackers, sleeves of Ritz Crackers, toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, socks, gloves, knit caps, wipes and emergency Mylar blankets.
“We forgot about asking for donated bags to put all of this stuff in,” Jackson said.
By mid-morning a number of groups had dropped off bags and more were expected.
On Friday, a room full of people showed up at the Central Texas Council of Governments in Belton to register to help with the homeless count and get set up on the AP Counting Us, which includes the survey used to determine the number of homeless in an area, but also provides information about the individual that is used to determine the needs and makeup of the local homeless community.
Each survey provides a picture of the homeless individual. Are they male or female? Are they a veteran? Have they been homeless before? If so, how many times? There are questions about the level of education obtained, ethnicity, general medical history and more.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires that communities receiving federal funds to conduct a count each year of all sheltered people on the fourth Thursday of January. Unsheltered counts are required every other year.
People who would like to volunteer with the count should show up at Feed My Sheep, 116 W. Ave. G. on Thursday morning.
Tindell said she would be at Feed My Sheep at 6 a.m. to send out volunteers to some of the parks around Bell County lakes where the homeless sometimes set up camp. Others will begin heading out around 8 a.m.