From February 2016 until May 2016, Jeremy Croom and Joshua Barton worked with Brunswick County Homeless Coalition in the beginning stages of formulating a Strategic Plan for the organization. Both are graduate students in the Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program at University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW). Utilizing a model taught to them in their Strategic Planning class, Jeremy and Joshua met with BCHC three times over the semester for Strategic Planning Sessions. The first session was held on February 15, 2016 and focused on Mission, Vision, and Values of BCHC. The second session was held on March 16, 2016 and focused on Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) of BCHC. The third and final Strategic Planning Session occurred on April 6, 2016 and focused on identifying Strategic Issues that BCHC must address. After each session, Jeremy and Joshua shared data sheets summarizing the sessions and the work that BCHC accomplished at each session. BCHC will take all the information they learned during the sessions and proceed in constructing a Strategic Plan for the organization. On May 2, 2016, Jeremy and Joshua presented their final project to their Strategic Planning class, summarizing the Strategic Planning sessions and what was learned by themselves and BCHC. Three members of BCHC attended the presentation as representatives of BCHC, Ms. Barbara Serafin, Ms. Elaine Fox, and Mr. Robert Butler.

Joshua Barton

UNCW MPA Graduate Student

MPA Fellow

For the past several years, BCHC had been a source of financial and human support for the homeless. We’ve tried to forestall and prevent homelessness by providing funds to pay for power bills, rent, and other necessities for those at risk of losing their homes. We’ve also placed people in motels where no temporary shelter beds were available. As there is no overnight homeless shelter in Brunswick County, we’ve been an advocate for building one here to provide emergency housing for the homeless.

Recent events and research are also leading us in another direction. Last year, the Brunswick County fire marshal set out new rules that will again allow local churches to house the homeless in emergency situations. This action by the County somewhat relieves the pressure for a local shelter. On the research front, a March 30, 2016 guest opinion published in the Wilmington Star News sets out the case for more emphasis on a quicker transition to permanent housing with supportive services. The author, Katrina Knight, should know. She is the executive director of Wilmington’s Good Shepherd Ministries, the primary homeless shelter in New Hanover County. In her article, she states “ We can keep adding shelters and shelter beds and allowing the ranks of homeless individuals and families to swell, or we can invest in housing strategies that shorten the length of people’s crises and return them more quickly to housing and stability in the community. “ One such strategy, rapid re-housing (RRH), is to place homeless families in long-term housing with adequate support services as soon as possible. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation reported that more than 85% of rapidly-re-housed homeless families never fall back into homelessness.

Whereas RRH beds in the United States increased by nearly 60% from 2014 to 2015, North Carolina lags both the nation and many of our neighboring states in its support for rapid re-housing. From 2014 to 2015 the supply of RRH beds in North Carolina decreased by about 20%, while RRH beds increased by 90% in Georgia and 131% Tennessee.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness set out three core components for a rapid re-housing program: (1) Identify and recruit landlords by understanding and addressing their perspectives ; (2) subsidize rent and move-in expenses, and; (3)identify and co-ordinate with agencies willing to provide support services .

BCHC already addresses the second core component through our financial support programs. How should we spend our time and resources on the first and third components as well? Let us know your opinion. Come to our next meeting on the first Tuesday of each month at the Brunswick Senior Resource Center at 3620 Express Drive, Shallotte (exit route 17 north at Smith Street) to learn more and express your view.

WHAT IS BCHC? AND WHAT DO WE DO?

Brunswick County Homeless Coalition had its beginning Nov. 2011, after a small group hearing a lecture at St. Brendan’s Church began questioning their role in social justice.  As of this writing, we have 25 members who have a passion to help the homeless and those in need residing in Brunswick County. We are a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization.

We continue our mission  to serve as an advocate for the homeless and those in need by increasing awareness and educating residents in Brunswick County.  In 2013 we acquired a toll-free number to assist callers  to access government and community services to help them address their needs. After receiving grants and donations we are able to assist with and provide housing needs. We continue to advocate for affordable housing.

Let me paint a picture for you; During the end of January 2015 we participated in a Point In Time Count where eight members of Brunswick County Homeless Coalition along with other volunteers found 48 persons in Brunswick County that did not have a place they called home. On January 29th we found a family living in a garage with no heat or water; a senior citizen living in a hotel that Brunswick County Homeless Coalition housed for several weeks during the cold weather; at present he is in a trailer and enjoying a home that he has not had for years; and a veteran who remains in the woods and continues to be visited by Brunswick County Homeless Coalition members who assist with his needs.  Many school children did not have a place called home but moved from house to house to find warmth and food. A recent statistic is 253 students in Brunswick County schools (2014-2015 school year) have no place to call home; 16.4% of Brunswick County residents have income below the poverty level and  16,856  residents in Brunswick County are receiving food stamps.

In 2014, Brunswick County Homeless Coalition helped 64  families,($4,712)  who were struggling due to loss of jobs, evictions, chronic/acute illnesses, and not able to pay rent and heating bills; and for the first six months of 2015 we helped 116 individuals and families ($11,079) with housing, rent, electricity, food, and transportation. Funding sources include  grants, fundraisers (golf tournament),  donations we receive from nonprofit organizations, and private donations.

So our message to you is: if you are looking for a way to show your gratitude for a good life – support and join Brunswick County Homeless Coalition and help others as they struggle…become a volunteer if you have skill sets we need – writing grants and mentoring skills; answering the toll-free calls and linking individuals with resources; being an ambassador and visiting with community groups to share data and ask for support, and assist with fundraisers.

We would like to leave you with a simple prayer that we say at our monthly meeting:

                                             when I have food help me remember the hungry,

                                             when I have work help me remember the jobless,

                                             when I have a home help me to remember those who have no home at all,

                                             bestir my complacency into action,

                                             and awaken my compassion, Amen.

Thank You for assisting Brunswick County Homeless Coalition to talk and walk its mission to help those in need and the homeless.

Barbara Serafin, President, and Brunswick County Homeless Coalition Members.                                              10/2015                                           

Together WE CAN make a difference.

After attending a meeting convened by Yvonne Hatcher to update the Local Coordinated Transportation Plan, several people in attendance decided they would meet regularly to learn more and to advocate for public transportation in Brunswick County. Members of the public transportation advocacy group include Tom Horan, South Brunswick Interchurch Council; Barbara Serafin, Brunswick County Homeless Coalition; Fred Stephens, Brunswick Family Assistance; and Roy Tucker, Southport Oak Island Interchurch Fellowship.

The group met on April 11 with Yvonne Hatcher, Director, Brunswick Transit System, Inc, the non-profit formed to provide public transportation in Brunswick

Members listen intently at a spring 2013 BCHC meeting (Photo: BCHC)

County. The group’s consensus after this meeting was to emphasize development of a new comprehensive Community Transportation Service Plan. The State of NC says that Community Transportation Service plans should be updated every five years; however, the Brunswick County plan has not been updated since it was developed in 1996. Yvonne said that the Department of Transportation official with whom she spoke in early April said that Brunswick County is third or fourth on the list of counties for updating the plan, that they now have three consulting firms under contract to update the county plans, and that work on the Brunswick County plan should begin in late 2013 or early 2014.

The group will meet with Don Eggert, Director, Rural Transportation Planning, Cape Fear Council of Governments on April 25. Don facilitated the meeting to update the Local Coordinated Transportation Plan. After meeting with him, the group may meet with officials involved in public transportation and transportation planning in preparation for meetings with Senator Bill Rabon and Representative Frank Iler.

This article was originally published by the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition in the “Currents” newsletter, Spring 2013 (Vol. 2, No. 1) edited by Kitty Kesler and published by Susie Kubley.

Brunswick County Homeless Coalition (BCHC) participated in the 2013 Brunswick County Volunteer Fair & Expo and the Service Awards Ceremony. The fair was held April 17, 2013 from 3-7 p.m. at the Odell Williamson Auditorium on the Brunswick Community College campus. This event was held during National

BCHC members Barbara Serafin, Wade Fulmer, Shirley Wyzga-Johnson, Diana & Bill Hadesty, James Polino, and Callie Spidle were present at the BCHC table (Photo: BCHC)

Volunteer Week.

More than 35 non-profit and community agencies serving Brunswick County were on hand to meet with the public and promote local volunteer opportunities. BCHC members Barbara Serafin, Wade Fulmer, Shirley Wyzga-Johnson, Diana & Bill Hadesty, James Polino, and Callie Spidle were present at the BCHC table to advocate for the needs of the homeless and provide information. Other BCHC members in attendance were Fred Stephens manning the Brunswick Family Assistance table and T.K. Nowell manning the Brunswick County Sheriff’s crime prevention table.

The event was an outstanding opportunity for other non-profits and area residents to hear the homeless message and how they can make a difference. The BCHC members also talked to other non-profits and government agencies about their volunteer programs and how they could partner with each other. The program also included a formal awards ceremony that recognized the NC Governor’s Award for Outside Volunteer Service recipients.

This article was originally published by the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition in the “Currents” newsletter, Spring 2013 (Vol. 2, No. 1) edited by Kitty Kesler and published by Susie Kubley.

Shirley Wyzga-Johnson says, “When I came to my first BCHC meeting, I knew that I wanted to do something hands-on to help those in need.” She decided to partner with Streetreach to make brown bag lunches for them to distribute to the homeless. Twice a month she and her team of 25 women from Ocean Ridge assemble bag lunches. Each lady makes a lunch and then drops it at Shirley’s house. Shirley transports the bags to Streetreach for distribution.

The lunches are a double blessing. They contain a sandwich, drink, fruit, chips, and cookies to be eaten that day, but they also contain pop-top canned foods, tuna or chicken salad kits, fruit or pudding cups, and peanut- butter or cheese crackers which can be eaten over the next few days. Everyone benefits; from the person making the lunch who knows she has helped someone, to the person receiving the meal who knows someone cares.

This article was originally published by the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition in the “Currents” newsletter, Spring 2013 (Vol. 2, No. 1) edited by Kitty Kesler and published by Susie Kubley.

The Brunswick County Homeless Coalition (BCHC) is taking their message on the road. As part of our mission to educate and raise awareness concerning the problems of the neediest in Brunswick County, we have developed the Coalition Ambassadors program. Eight BCHC members were trained on April 25 to be Ambassadors. They will travel in pairs to give presentations at civic and faith-based organizations throughout the county.
Using a computer-projector slide show, ambassadors will explain the mission and vision of BCHC, past events that we have hosted, where we are headed, and how

Using a computer-projector slide show, ambassadors will explain the mission and vision of BCHC and how the audience can get involved. (Photo: BCHC)

the audience can get involved. They will distribute a fact sheet highlighting the issues surrounding poverty and homelessness in the county and answer questions.

Many residents don’t recognize that there are homeless people in the county or how many families teeter on the brink of homelessness. Coalition Ambassadors is a program designed to dispel these myths. It is hoped that by shining a light on the problems of the neediest more people will become involved in trying to solve those problems.

County groups and organizations who wish to take advantage of the program can contact BCHC at 1-888-519-5362.

This article was originally published by the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition in the “Currents” newsletter, Spring 2013 (Vol. 2, No. 1) edited by Kitty Kesler and published by Susie Kubley.

Resea Willis of BHO gives the members of BCHC an overview of programs to help the recently homeless and those attempting to buy affordable housing. (Photo: BCHC)
John Allen, Lloyd Gladden, Kitty Kesler, Jim Polino, and Lynda Marlowe enjoy Ms. Willis’ presentation. (Photo: BCHC)

Resea Willis, CEO and President, Brunswick Housing Opportunities, Inc. (BHO), was guest speaker on Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 at the monthly meeting of the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition (BCHC). One of BCHC’s goals is to advocate for transitional and permanent housing. The membership had an opportunity to hear how since 2007 the founder of BHO has focused on creating policy changes, building affordable housing, and educating homebuyers on how to purchase affordable housing.

The mission of BHO is to EDUCATE consumers to use existing resources as a platform to launch their economic independence; EQUIP consumers by giving them access with training to tools and resources previously out of the reach; EMPOWER consumers to use their training and preparation to take advantage of opportunities; and EXPAND dreams into possibilities and realities. At present a work group of BCHC including members John Allen, Mark Filipovic, Bill Hadesty, Fred Thorne, Roy Tucker, and Barbara Serafin, have met monthly to educate themselves about affordable housing and advocate for its presence in Brunswick County.

BCHC’s Mission to advocate for the homeless and those in need involves facilitating resources to meet those needs. Our vision includes decreasing the incidence of chronic and transitional homelessness. Two of the goals of the BCHC work group are to encourage landlords to list affordable rentals on capefearhousing.org and to educate those seeking affordable housing as well as educating those who are assisting others to seek affordable housing. The Brunswick County Association of Realtors has been contacted and we have discussed listing affordable housing on capefear.org and learning the specifics of the program. Calling 2-1-1, a statewide resource for information confirmed that when inquiring about affordable housing, capefearhousing.org and nchousingsearch.org were given as contacts. BCHC mailed information about nchousingsearch.org, a free service to find and list housing, to many apartment complexes. The above mentioned resources could help the seekers and those assisting the seekers to find affordable housing to meet their specific needs including amenities, neighborhood features, and requirements to be met in order to be eligible for housing. Maintaining contact with Resea Willis and BHO and connecting with the services and resources available will strengthen our commitment to the mission and vision of BCHC.

This article was originally published by the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition in the “Currents” newsletter, Spring 2013 (Vol. 2, No. 1) edited by Kitty Kesler and published by Susie Kubley.

Since Brunswick County does not provide a shelter for the homeless, Streetreach has organized a program in which various churches host the homeless on a rotating basis. The training for the Streetreach Interfaith Winter Night Program was held on October 20, at the New Life Christian Fellowship with Pastor Bobby Norton in attendance. They were the host church for the first week of this year’s program. Forty-nine volunteers attended the training.

Nine BCHC members pose by the cots which were set up to demonstrate the three stages of preparing the cots for the night shelter guests. (Photo: BCHC)

 

The program began with a light lunch provided by the church. Then Donna Phelps conducted the training by explaining the rules that govern the program. Using Brunswick County Homeless Coalition president, Barbara Serafin, to play the role of a homeless person arriving at the shelter, Donna walked volunteers through the registration process. She showed residents how to handle various situations that might occur such as a guest arriving intoxicated. Several folks who participated in last year’s program shared their experiences.

Donna showed the cots which have been purchased for each site and the bedding that is provided. In churches that have shower facilities, hotel sized shampoo and toiletries are provided for each guest Many attending the training came because their church will serve as a host site. Others came to learn about the program and how they can best help host churches. Attendees agreed that the program was very informative and feel better prepared to meet the needs of the homeless.

 

Originally published by the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition in the “Currents” newsletter, Fall 2012 (Vol. 1, No. 3) edited by Kitty Kesler and published by Susie Kubley.

Circles of Support is a part of The 10 Year Plan to end Chronic Homelessness and Reduce Homelessness in the Cape Fear Region, a United Way of the Cape Fear Area program that was started in Wilmington in 2009. This is a group mentoring program for individuals and families emerging from chronic homelessness.

Eleven Brunswick County citizens–eight of whom are BCHC members–were trained as mentors in the Circles of Support program. (Photo: BCHC)

 

Qualified volunteers willing to commit to being mentors for twelve months are trained by Julia Steffen, Projects Manager. The Brunswick County Homeless Coalition (BCHC) coordinated to have a training session in Brunswick County. Eleven Brunswick County citizens, eight of whom are BCHC members, completed the required training on Sept. 15th. When they have passed a background check, they will become the first such mentoring group in the county.

The training session provided potential mentors with instruction on how to help and support formerly homeless people with tasks necessary to stay housed including money management, organizational skills, job search, time management, and transportation. Mentors also provide a social support network, giving of themselves and their time. Mentors play the most important role in keeping someone emerging from chronic homelessness off the streets and in housing.

Lora Moree, Director of Brunswick Family Assistance, concluded the training by providing information about the housing available in Brunswick County and a basic description of the clients presently needing mentors.

 

Originally published by the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition in the “Currents” newsletter, Fall 2012 (Vol. 1, No. 3) edited by Kitty Kesler and published by Susie Kubley.