COLUMBUS, Ga. – More than 75 volunteers are tracking the homeless population around Columbus and Phenix City. It’s all part of the local Point in Time Count. United Way’s Home for Good program conducts the Point in Time survey each year. This is in conjunction with a national effort to reduce and ultimately end homelessness.
Volunteers survey the homeless community in order to gauge what resources they need throughout the region. News 3 shadowed a few volunteers at the SafeHouse Wednesday. The homeless shelter is just one of dozens of locations scouted out in advance that frequently house the homeless. Volunteers also scan wooded areas and bridges to help the homeless.
The surveys have questions ranging from employment and criminal history to where a person may have slept the night before. Columbus State University senior Brandi Holland says helping the homeless is one of her passions because she notes that any person could potentially be one paycheck away from being in a similar position.
“We have something to learn from the homeless community, and I feel like their stories can drive us to do better,” Holland said. “And what we can do to help them in the future? That’s what’s got me hooked.”
Holland teared up when thinking about the amount of children that make a shelter their home, or have nowhere to sleep at night. In 2016, volunteers surveyed about 270 people to learn how to best distribute resources to the help the homeless. The totals for 2017 are not yet available. Overall, Holland says the eye-opening experience teaches her humility and hope in the homeless community.
“Never judge a book by its cover,” Holland explained. “Everyone has their own story, and our homeless population are good people. Most of them would give the shirt off their back, knowing they probably won’t have another one — just to help someone else.”