Carrying surveys and care packages and escorted by Brownwood police, a small group of volunteers helped Brown County Home Solutions (BCHS) in a count of the homeless Thursday in Brownwood.
BCHS participated in the Austin-based Texas Homeless Network’s Point-in-Time count, and 10 volunteers — paired into five teams — were assigned locations where they might find homeless individuals.
Additionally, counts were made at the Salvation Army, Good Samaritan Ministries and The ARK Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Shelter.
As of mid-afternoon Thursday, 23 homeless individuals had been counted, BCHS Executive Director Linda Heitman said.
Ten volunteers gathered Thursday morning at the BCHS office — which has been moved to the former Avenue D Baptist Church building, adjacent to Legacy Village — and prepared to go out on their counts.
Brownwood Police Chief Ed Kading and three additional officers arrived, and split up to escort the teams of volunteers.
While those volunteers did not encounter many homeless individuals, they saw evidence under bridges and other locations that people had been sleeping there.
“When I first came to Brownwood, when I was out in the community meeting all the different people in Brownwood, I met the folks over at Brown County Home Solutions,” Kading said. “When I was in graduate school at Angelo State several years ago for public administration I did a lot of research and a lot of study and wrote some papers about homelessness. Obviously it’s one of our biggest social issues and problems in our country, and I think it’s important that if you’re going to be a member of a community that you try to get involved. I have a passion, if you will, for trying to figure out if we can help people who need these type of services.”
Heitman asked law enforcement for assistance, Kading said.
“I think it’s important that we do all we can to assist them, just to make sure everybody’s OK and safe,” Kading said. “I think it’s important that we get this count as accurate as we can, so hopefully it will turn into future dollars for Brown County for further social service.”
Kading said he is impressed with Legacy Village and BCHS’s “very well thought out plan to help people help themselves. So many people just need a chance in a structured program to help them get back on their feet, and that’s what that does,” Kading said.
The chief said officers and first responders encounter homeless individuals. “We do what we can, but thank goodness we have some really good services here in Brown County,” Kading said.
One of the volunteers, Patti Kennamer of Bangs, said, “I think it’s important to serve the people who are homeless. Nobody deserves to live like that and if there’s a way that we can provide services and help with that, that’s what we want to do.”
BCHS has been able to provide blankets to be carried in Brownwood police vehicles for distribution to homeless individuals, and Early police vehicles will be receiving them as well, Heitman said.
Heitman said the officers who accompanied the volunteers “were all very helpful and knowledgeable.”
Heitman reiterated that she wants to thank the police department and the volunteers.
In an earlier interview, Heitman said, “It’s important for the community to know how big the problem is here. It’s important for me for grant writing purposes and also for law enforcement. It’s just important information to have — where they’re at, to be able to connect with them, to let them know about the shelter and other services that are possibly available.”
In another BCHS matter, final preparations are underway for the opening of the inclement weather shelter for the homeless at 5 p.m. Friday.
The temperature isn’t forecast to reach a point Friday night that would normally trigger the opening of the shelter.
“That’s the date I announced we’re opening,” Heitman said.
BCHS will have an open house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.