Volunteers conduct Rock County homeless count this week
Joining the northern Rock County count this year will be Rep. Joe Knilans of Janesville and Rep. Evan Wynn of Whitewater.
Volunteers will meet late Wednesday for orientation at a site in Janesville and one in Beloit before they drive around the county searching for people living outdoors or in their cars. The count will end early Thursday.
Donations still are welcome, and volunteers still are needed for the count as well as for other activities. Hereís what volunteers should know:
1. The Rock County Homeless Intervention Task Force conducts point-in-time counts in February and July. The counts are intended as 24-hour snapshots of the countyís homeless population. Service providers count folks living in emergency shelters, transitional housing or domestic violence shelters. In Rock County, volunteers search overnight for people living without shelter on the street or other places.
2. The count serves several purposes, said Marc Perry, director of planning and development at Community Action. Service providers use the results when they apply for grants or public money. They use the opportunity to give supplies and information to homeless families and connect them with services. Finally, the annual event has raised awareness of the problem, Perry has said. Volunteers have become ambassadors for the sometimes-invisible population, he said.
3. Volunteers are needed to assemble the care packages that will be distributed that night. Often, the packages are left when volunteers canít find the people living in what appear to be outdoor shelters. Food, personal care and cold-weather items are still needed for the packages. Consider donating bottled water, soap, flashlights with batteries, trail mix, hats and gloves or feminine products. To get a complete list of items needed or to volunteer, call Marc Perry at (608) 289-8554 or email mperry@community
action.org by Tuesday. Deliver items for donation to ECHO, 65 S. High St., Janesville, by 4 p.m. Tuesday. Cash is welcome as a donation.
4. Volunteers who want to count in Beloit and southern Rock County should attend orientation at 10 p.m. Wednesday at the Liberal Arts Practice Center, 700 College St., Beloit. The center is across from Community Action Day Care. The count will conclude around 2 a.m. Thursday. This meeting place is new this year. Team leaders who are willing to drive are needed for this group.
5. Volunteers who want to work in Janesville and northern Rock County should meet for orientation at 11 p.m. Wednesday at ECHO. The teams will return to ECHO around 4 a.m. Experienced team leaders are needed for this group.