For more than 13 years the Highland County Homeless Shelter has provided a temporary home for those with nowhere else to go. That would not have been possible, executive director Greg Hawkins said, without the support of a generous community. As the shelter prepares to launch another year of fundraising, Hawkins is calling on that generosity again.
“I am so proud to be a part of such a generous community and cannot thank everyone enough for their support,” Hawkins said in a prepared statement. “We continue to strive to expand our programs and offerings to the community. We ask for your support in 2018 with a monetary donation to our annual fundraising campaign. Each year, our organization assists homeless individuals within our community and without donations from individuals like you, this would not be possible. Donations help sustain our organization and benefit the community which we serve.”
The shelter’s annual budget, Hawkins said, would be approximately $200,000, if the facility was full year around. He said the shelter has received an Ohio Development Services Grant for $137,000, but that total has to be split over 2018 and 2019, and the shelter will need to rely on donations for its remaining funds.
The shelter is open 365 days a year and officers assistance and support to up to 28 men, women and children at any given time, for a maximum of 90 days. In 2016-17, the shelter provided a refuge for 283 men, women and children free of charge. It provides beds, food and shelter, along with access to essential programs and services that help homeless individuals rebuild their confidence and their lives.
“We are happy to serve Highland County and surrounding areas, and we are proud to serve those less fortunate,” Hawkins said. “There is hope. In order to meet our mission and provide services within our community, we rely on the generosity of individuals and businesses for support.”
While financial donations are a continuous need, Hawkins said the shelter also needs items like seasonal clothing, cleaning products, food and more.
“Just about anything anybody uses in their household, we probably use twice as much here,” Hawkins said.
The fundraising runs the year entire year. Donations can be made on the shelter’s Facebook page through PayPal, checks can be made out to the Highland County Homeless Shelter, 145 Homestead Ave., Hillsboro, Ohio 45133, or donations can be dropped off at the shelter.
As Christmas was approaching last month, Hawkins said he posted a request on the shelter’s Facebook page for donations to make the holiday season a little more bright for the shelter’s residents. Before long people started asking for the sizes of clothing needed and before it was over community individuals and businesses responded with toys, clothing, care packages, a Christmas dinner, and more dinners that were donated throughout the holidays.
“Everything that was needed to make a good Christmas happened,” Hawkins said. “… On behalf of myself and the clients I would like to thank the community and the surrounding areas for their support… We were overjoyed by the community response to our Facebook post – over 13,000 views and hundreds of messages of support. Your generosity created a Christmas experience for the children that they will not soon forget.”
On Jan. 23, the shelter will hold its annual “Point-In-Time” from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. the next morning. The prupose of the event is to identify an approximate number of people in each Ohio county who have no home. Then from Jan. 24-31, there will be a service-based count to identify any additional unsheltered individuals on the night of the Point-In-Time.
Hawkins said the state conducts the count each year and that each county with a homeless shelter conducts its own count.
“We get tips from our clients, people in the community, and places we’ve heard of in the past where potential clients have been staying like under bridges, on the streets, or maybe in abandoned houses,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins said that as far as he knows, no one is currently living on the streets in the county.
During a 24-hour period, staff and volunteers scout Highland County for homeless individuals, both sheltered and unsheltered, to offer assistance. The information is then provided to the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, Ohio Development Services Agency and Housing and Urban Development to gauge which areas have seen increases or decreases in the homeless population. Shelter staff and volunteers will hand out backpacks with flashlights donated to the shelter by the Paint Valley ADAMH Board and personal hygiene products provided by the shelter staff.
Anyone interested in volunteering for the Point-in-Time can contact the Highland County Homeless Shelter at 937-393-0634 or by email [email protected]
“We appreciate everyone’s support,” Hawkins said. “We have a lot more work to do because of the number of homeless people in Highland County is growing all the time.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or [email protected]