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.

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.

 

 

On November 10th, 2012, Brunswick County Homeless Coalition (BCHC) joined forces with other groups throughout the nation to raise awareness of those who are hungry and homeless. BCHC sponsored the First Annual Hunger and Homeless Banquet at Seaside Methodist Church, Sunset Beach. A soup and water lunch was served to 108 participants representing faith-based ministries,churches, nonprofit organizations, and concerned citizens. Rita Canfield opened the day with a prayer. A fact sheet shared with the attendees reported that in Brunswick County 10,000 people were living in extreme poverty, and 23,593 families sought assistance from food pantries. During the 2011-2012 school year, 61% of the students in Brunswick County Public Schools received free or reduced lunches. From January through the end of June 2012, Brunswick County StreetReach provided emergency shelter for 89 people and Good Shepherd Center in Wilmington provided emergency shelter for an additional 64 people living in Brunswick County.

2012: the First Annual Hunger and Homeless Banquet

Guest speakers enlightened us. Fran Salone-Pelletier, religion columnist for the Brunswick Beacon, was obviously moved when she spoke on her reflection of the book of the Hebrew prophet, Amos, as it applied to the problem of hunger and homelessness in Brunswick County. Here are a few excerpts from her talk. “Do I grieve over the ruin of my brothers and sisters who have nothing but the clothes on their backs? I have never known the sorrow of being the object of disgust or the subject of judgment based on my inability to declare an address. I have never known what it is like to have people either stare at me because I am poorly clothed and dirty.” At the conclusion of her talk, Fran reminded everyone, “If one person remains homeless, all of us are homeless. That’s the price we pay. It’s the cost of living as God’s people. It’s what happens when we respond to the call, Come follow me.” Simone Weil states, “Unless one has placed oneself on the side of the oppressed, to feel with them, one cannot understand.”

Joyce Beatty, Student Support Services Brunswick School System, presented the federal legislation that supports children in the educational setting who have been classified as homeless. McKinney Vento allows schools to identify these children while making sure they are not singled out and treated differently in any way. Social workers connect schools with community resources for families who lack a regular nighttime residence, live with another family, live in a hotel or motel, o r live in a campsite, bus, or park. Each of the schools in Brunswick County has a liaison in place to assist with identification and support.

Donna Phelps of Brunswick StreetReach, Inc. shared information about the interfaith night shelter program. Currently night shelters are operational during the coldest months of the year: November, December, January, and February. Sixteen churches partner with them to support the host sites. She discussed the rules guests of the shelter must follow and the agreement to comply they must sign. Anyone found in violation of the rules is asked to leave the site. A sample of the cots and coverings used was displayed. Volunteers assisting with the night shelter program received training and have opportunities to supply food and needed supplies, and to assist at the shelters.

Poems and prayers written by the homeless and for the homeless were read by Barbara Serafin. The life journey of a few homeless people was shared and the support given by volunteere and the resources available in Brunswick County were identified. A person leaving the homeless scene and becoming productive and independent again, encouraged those present to be sensitive and supportive to those trying to end homelessness. A prayer written by someone who was once homeless reads: “Lord, help my brothers/ I do not know their names/ people call them homeless./ Help them to know their worth,/ and live an abundant life.”

Brent Tyndall, musician and songwriter, played the keyboard and sang songs giving the participants a time for reflection. At the end of the program the participants were invited to visit the educational displays and learn about the resources available in Brunswick County. There was time for fellowship and exploring volunteer opportunities.

The written and verbal feedback BCHC received about the program was extremely positive and most comments addressed the amount of new knowledge gained and the opportunity for fellowship. BCHC, together with their partners, looks forward to continuing to serve as an advocate for the homeless and to increase awareness of issues concerning poverty in Brunswick County.

Members of Creative Spirit, crochet and knitting group, (that meets every Friday at St. Brendan Catholic Church) donated nearly two hundred “made with love” hats and scarves to Brunswick County Homeless Coalition (BCHC) and Brunswick County StreetReach (BCSTR). Pastor Ryszard Kolodziej, (center) new Pastor of St. Brendan, blessed all the handmade items before Eileen Brown, Creative Spirit member (standing far left) who coordinated efforts with Lynn Yencik, BCHC Volunteer Director (standing far right), presented Gary Phelps and Donna Phelps, Vice President and President BCSTR (far left back row) and Dianne Cherry, BCSTR Board member (pictured next to Lynn) with the items that will become comfort from the cold formally men, women, and children in our area this winter.

Creative Spirit, with their “made with love” hats and scarves donated to BCHC (Photo: BCHC)

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.

BCHC Volunteers Spread the Word

As part of the BCHC mission to raise awareness, Silvia Wiesensee and Mark Filipovic represent the Coalition at Oak Island Family Fun Day on Sept. 29th, 2012. (Photo: BCHC)

 

 

At the October 2012 meeting, BCHC’s youngest member, Emily Marlowe, presents her school project on the needs of the homeless. (Photo: BCHC)

 

 

Barbara Serafin, Ro Schwenk, Rita Canfield, and Lynn Yencik represent BCHC at the Stewardship Fair held at St. Brendan Church on Sept. 29th adn 30th, 2012. (Photo: BCHC)

 

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.

On November 5, 2012, the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners proclaimed November 10 – 18, 2012 as “National Hunger and Homelessness Week in Brunswick County, North Carolina.”  Commissioner J. Martin Cooke read the resolution to all in attendance, including members of the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition.

BCHC Members listen as the official proclamation is read (Photo: BCHC)

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.