WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – About a hundred people gathered at the Brunswick Center in Leland for the Sixth Annual Hunger & Homeless Banquet Saturday.
Community leaders, experts, formerly homeless people, and concerned citizens were among the attendees.
The purpose of the event was to educate the community about homelessness, but also to raise funds for the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition, which put on the event.
According to data provided at the event, there were 322 sheltered and unsheltered homeless people in Brunswick County in a count January 2017.
The Brunswick County Homeless Coalition assists about 300 people struggling with homelessness every year, according to the Co-President of the coalition.
Volunteer Joe Staton faced homelessness four years ago, but eventually got back onto his feet. Now, Staton volunteers with the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition.
“When I moved to Brunswick County I was homeless. And through a process of getting help… I was able to get an apartment, somewhere to live,” said Staton. “So now I volunteer to try to give back something and help the ones who still need it.”
BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Ending homelessness and hunger in one county is the mission for the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition.
This weekend the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition held their 6th Annual Hunger and Homeless Banquet and Soup Luncheon.
This event was to educate and raise awareness about poverty-related problems.
The event was free and hosted at the Brunswick Center at Leland.
The banquet and soup luncheon invited formerly homeless individuals to talk about their past struggles and learn about solutions.
Joe Staton who now volunteers with the coalition used to be homeless and said the help he received from them was life changing.
“A lot of people don’t know that Brunswick County has a homeless population at all, but they do and we work directly with them. When I came to Brunswick County I was homeless, and I received the help and I know there’s a lot of people out there needing it,” Staton said.
The Brunswick County Homeless Coalition is made up of volunteers and wants to continue to educate the community about the hunger and homeless problems in the area.
ATMC TV’s November 2017 “Our Hometown” show features, during its latter segment, an interview with Paul Witmer and Joe Staton of the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition. The subject matter covers the definition of homelessness, aspects of our homelessness problem with respect to Veterans and others, and the Coalition’s annual event on November 18th, 2017, spotlighting awareness of and solutions to poverty- and homelessness-related problems here in Brunswick County.
Our Hometown, hosted by Jim MacCallum, features in-depth stories about local people, places and events in Brunswick and Columbus Counties. Our Hometown airs every day at 8:30am and 7:00pm on ATMC TV.
The Homeless Coalition appreciates very much this opportunity to raise awareness, and we give a heartfelt thanks to Jim and to ATMC TV.
Your turn: National Hunger & Homeless Awareness week
Thursday, November 9th 2017, 1:18 pm EST (Source: WECT). Copyright 2017 Raycom Media. All Rights Reserved.
By: Joe Staton, Brunswick County Homeless Coalition
How many persons are homeless in Brunswick County?
How do you define homelessness?
How can we help homeless veterans find housing?
Is there a single path to end homelessness?
What is rapid rehousing and how does it work?
Are there really more than 400 homeless students in the Brunswick County School system?
Does Brunswick County need a homeless shelter?
The answers to some of these questions may alarm you. National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week is held each year during the week prior to Thanksgiving.
The Brunswick County Homeless Coalition takes this opportunity to enhance our efforts to raise awareness about the issue and what is being done locally to work toward meeting the needs, advocating for and working toward ending homelessness.
The best thing we can do is get more people involved.
Please go to the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition website at brunswickhomeless.com to learn how you can get involved. While you are visiting our site, please consider registering for our annual event on Saturday, November 18.
As we move toward the Thanksgiving season, and start to count our own blessings, please consider sharing some of that compassion with our neighbors who aren’t as fortunate as us. Together, we can make a difference.
Advocates: Brunswick County needs homeless shelter
By Makenzie Holland StarNews Staff
Posted May 24, 2017 at 10:52 AMUpdated May 24, 2017 at 10:59 AM
Several local nonprofit organizations and churches care for Brunswick County’s homeless population.
BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Glenna Clemmons’ single bedroom apartment has one poster hanging on the wall. A small couch and recliner take up most of the living room, while an old TV sits nearby.
Though her apartment is small, Clemmons values the luxury.
For 20 years, Clemmons worked in commercial fishing with her boyfriend, a life she described as hard but rewarding.
Seven years ago, Clemmons’ boyfriend died and she lost everything. After a lifetime of labor, she became homeless.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 14.3 percent of Brunswick County’s 126,953 residents live in poverty. When people become homeless or face eviction, they often turn to nonprofit organizations for assistance. The county government relies heavily on nonprofits to take care of the homeless since the county has no permanent emergency shelter.
Nonprofits are funded differently, though most rely on charitable donations, grants and other contributions to function. These groups and a network of local churches care for the county’s homeless on a daily basis, though the strain of handling numerous cases each day is beginning to show.
Need for services
When Clemmons no longer had a place to call home, she traveled and stayed with family in Tennessee, California and Louisiana before returning to Southport. With nowhere else to turn, Clemmons said somebody told her about Brunswick County Streetreach. The organization and founder, Donna Phelps, helped her into an apartment.
Phelps said the lack of available housing options for the number of people she deals with daily that are in a crisis situation highlights a need for more options.
“This county has reached a point now that there needs to be some type of emergency shelter,” Phelps said. “There really does. I’m not saying a full-time shelter because honestly most of our people are not chronic homeless, they’re situational homeless, under-employed, evicted, or victims of domestic violence, we don’t have the chronic homeless like Wilmington has. So our situation is really different, but we still need some type of recourse other than just calling us.”
Brunswick Family Assistance, another nonprofit agency, handles at least one family or individual a week that is homeless, said Stephanie Bowen, executive director. She said the agency handles multiple calls on a daily basis from families that are at risk of becoming homeless because they can’t afford rent, which averages $846 a month in the county.
BFA has a rental assistance program and the organization will often facilitate a landlord/tenant agreement to keep the individual or families in their home.
Bowen said emergency sheltering is another challenge entirely.
“As far as people seeking emergency shelter, the biggest limitation we have here in Brunswick County is we do not have a homeless shelter,” Bowen said. “So what we typically do is we try to divert them from having to go over to Wilmington because most of the time that’s not an option for people…if they have a job or school here, they can’t get to Wilmington’s shelter, so we try to find other options for them.”
The agency often exhausts resources when trying to find suitable housing for people in need.
“A lot of times what we find is there’s not a whole lot we can do,” Bowen said.
From Nov. 1 to March 1, Phelps relies heavily on a motel system that charges a discounted rate to house the homeless.
This past winter Streetreach had between 11 to 17 different individuals each week staying in the motels.
Over the summer months, Phelps relies on churches that open their doors and allow the homeless to stay overnight.
When Streetreach began sheltering in 2011, Phelps had 12 churches to work with.
“That worked out beautifully, each one housed for a week then we moved to the next site,” she said.
As the years went by, Phelps said the number of churches willing to house the homeless dwindled. Now, she only has four churches willing to provide shelter, though several offer food, clothing and other amenities.
Joe Staton has lived in Brunswick County since 2012. He moved in with his aunt and uncle in Ocean Isle Beach after living in a homeless shelter in Florence, South Carolina.
Staton became homeless after he and his wife separated.
“I didn’t have anywhere to stay because I was struggling with PTSD, trying to get military disability,” he said. “I didn’t have a job, any income at all. So I found a homeless shelter that would take me in just because I was a veteran.”
Staton eventually received assistance from BFA, which set him up in an apartment and with counselors who helped him with social reintegration.
Had there not been a transitional shelter available for him in South Carolina, Staton said he would’ve been “sleeping under a bridge.”
She leads the Brunswick Homeless Task Force, created about a year ago, which has been bringing different agencies in the area together, including county government, to coordinate and understand the size and scope of homelessness in Brunswick County.
Staton, Bowen, Phelps and Barbara Serafin, co-president of the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition, cited the need for an emergency shelter, as well as more transitional and affordable housing options, to prevent homelessness and have an emergency resource in a crisis situation.
“We need to let people who are in trouble, who are homeless or at risk from homelessness, know that there’s somewhere for them to stay,” Staton said. “That we care about them and they’re important and still a part of our society.”
Reporter Makenzie Holland can be reached at 910-343-2371 or Makenzie.Holland@StarNewsOnline.com.
The Homeless Coalition serves as an advocate for the homeless by increasing awareness and by providing resources to meet their needs.
By Michael Trescak Your Voice Correspondent
CALABASH (May 15, 2017) — The Veteran’s Affairs Committee of the Calabash Elks Lodge 2679 recently made an $800 cash donation to the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition. The Coalition was selected because they serve, among others, our increasing population of homeless veterans in Brunswick County.
The Homeless Coalition is a group of volunteers from faith-based ministries, non-for-profit organizations, local agencies, and concerned citizens coming together for the greater good of Brunswick County’s homeless and in-need population. The mission of the Coalition is to serve as an advocate for the homeless and those in need by increasing awareness and education in Brunswick County, and by exploring, promoting, recruiting, facilitating, and providing resources to meet these needs.
The mission of the Veteran’s Affairs Committee of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, Lodge 2679, is to provide occasional funding, fraternal activities and general support for our local veterans, various veteran’s programs, and our military located throughout Southeastern North Carolina, as well as for our retired and wounded warriors in the Fort Bragg area of Fayetteville, and Camp LeJeune area in Jacksonville.
For more information about other ways our Elks Lodge supports our veterans and the military community, http://www.CalabashElks.Org and click on the Veterans Affairs tab.
The StarNews welcomes and will consider publishing Your Voice articles contributed by readers, nonprofits and clubs. Community Page submissions should be 300 words and accompanied by a good-quality photograph. Contact Community News Editor Si Cantwell at 343-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.