Volunteers needed to help count Louisville's homeless residents
Some of the city's homeless sleep in cold, dark and even dangerous places. The Coalition for the Homeless is now recruiting people to go into those places.
Tuesday, January 27th 2015, 6:37 pm EST by
Wednesday, January 28th 2015, 8:14 am EST
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Some of the city's homeless sleep in cold, dark and even dangerous places. The Coalition for the Homeless is now recruiting people to go into those places.
It is part of an annual street count. Every year, volunteers hit the streets and go into the homeless camps. They're tasked with getting the names and ages of the people who call those places home.
William Vissers and Joshua Parrish are both under 40 and live on the streets.
"It's hard, and you never know what these streets may bring you day in and day out," Parrish said.
Both are also quick to point out their circumstances are self-inflicted.
"I did this to myself," said Vissers. "My parents died and I just started getting depressed and started using drugs real bad to hide my pain."
Vissers and Parrish are two of the hundreds of people volunteers will be looking for this week.
"What we do is we take a census of everyone who is living out on the streets," Seven Counties Services' Susanne Binford said.
This week, the Coalition for the Homeless is looking for volunteers to help count the city's homeless. Binford says it's important because the count leads to federal dollars. "It helps us determine how much money we need for services to help people move out of homelessness," Binford explained.
Shelters like Christian Mission and The Salvation Army will count the people staying there. However, throughout the city, there are dozens of homeless camps. Binford says that's why so many volunteers are needed.
"We could use volunteers that would let us walk down every street in Louisville," said Binford. "Right now we have 290, which is the most volunteers we've ever had but I would be happy to have 500 volunteers."
Nolan Nelson is one of the returning volunteers. "I care about this issue," he said. "I care about people who might not have a place to stay tonight."
Nelson says it's important to approach everyone with kindness and respect, even though their front door might be no more than a sheet under an overpass.
"It is their home that night, you know, and when I go to your home I knock on the door and so, yeah, we learn ways to approach the camps and the people staying outside that night," said Nelson.
The homeless camps are mostly littered with trash, but an empty container that reads 'fed with faith' is a sign that someone has tried to help.
Both Vissers and Parrish hope the count will lead to more than just hot meals.
"I think they should come out with some more, more [programs] for substance abuse programs," said Vissers.
"And more programs to get the homeless off the streets," said Parrish.
The training starts Wednesday night at 6 p.m. at Wayside Christian Mission's Hotel Louisville at 120 W. Broadway. Volunteers can start walking the streets on Thursday morning.
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