Centrally located in Richmond, Monroe Park has provided an access point for people to find meals, clothing, and fellowship on the weekend for decades. Compassionate congregations, service groups, and individuals have traveled to Monroe Park to provide these resources. Many have faithfully provided meals and ministry for years.
Monroe Park closed for renovations on Nov. 14. It is no longer as easy or convenient to receive or provide these services on the weekends.
Organizations including Homeward, CARITAS, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church’s Emmaus Ministry are all part of a collaborative network of agencies that provide shelter, housing services, meals, employment, furniture, mental health and substance abuse treatment and connections to other resources to more than 3,500 individuals and families each year. These important community services will continue to be provided during the Monroe Park renovation, and the organizations need your help to ensure that individuals who accessed critical services at the park can be connected with the existing resources they need to return to stability.
On any given day in the Greater Richmond region, 762 men, women, and children experience the crisis of homelessness. When Homeward conducted our January 2016 Point-in-Time count, 70 individuals were sleeping outdoors in Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield. The other individuals and families counted were staying in shelters throughout our region, including at a hypothermia shelter in the City of Richmond, a shelter that is only open when temperatures drop below a certain threshold at night.
Through our collaborative network, more than 10 nonprofit and public-sector service providers convene weekly to help connect our most vulnerable neighbors to permanent housing. Outreach workers from several agencies also regularly go out to encampments to build relationships with folks living outdoors, to make sure their basic needs are met, and to connect them to more stable situations.
On a single day earlier this month, two individuals with a combined history of 11 years of homelessness were connected to permanent housing and a case manager to ensure they remain housed for the foreseeable future. On that same day, nine more individuals started the housing process.
While we celebrate this and other successes each week, our work ending homelessness is ongoing and urgent. Between November and January, when we know the need is the highest, we will be working to increase the number of single adults who return to stable housing. We can end homelessness, and you can help.
- Support the feeding programs taking place currently. They need help with hospitality greeters for people coming to receive food.
- Make bagged lunches for men at The Healing Place and drop them off on Friday for their walk to services on Saturday.
- Provide gift cards to restaurants or convenience stores to access meals.
- Offer bus tickets to individuals living outdoors or in shelters who lack access to transportation to employment, medical appointments, and other services.
- Run a collection drive for basic kitchen and household items as well as cold-weather clothing and shoes.
- Challenge your group to provide flexible funding to pay for the costs that arise when moving to expedite the housing process.
We all play a part in ending homelessness and hopelessness for our neighbors. We can all work to make our community spaces more welcoming. Together, we can meet people where they are and help them on their journey. Whether you are a licensed professional working to help someone identify the resources they need to address a mental health disorder, or a compassionate, loving new friend, together we can make sure all folks have a home for the winter and beyond.