Gearing Up for Homeless Count

By Mindy Honey, Society Editor, Branson Daily News

While the next homeless count is still months away, organizers are already busy preparing so they won’t miss a single person in need.

“Right now, there are so many people that are needy,” said Christopher Welch, who is heading up the Taney County Point in Time Count scheduled for July 29.

He said volunteers who were signed up for the January count, which was scaled back due to inclement weather, are “on fire” and ready to help in the upcoming count. While he is still accepting volunteers, his focus right now is on collecting items that will be distributed to people during the count.

“Right now the focus is on backpacks and pop-top canned (food) items,” Welch said.

Bruce Dunn is stepping up to help and will be assisting Welch during the upcoming count.

“I’ve been homeless,” Dunn said. “I feel like it is a calling for me.”

Dunn said he is already working to find out where people are staying and learning more all the time. Dunn is beginning to help Brian Stallings, a local man who distributes sack lunches to people who live in weekly rental units. Every Thursday the men distribute about 120 lunches to people.

“They are really grateful,” Dunn said.

“It builds trust,” Welch said.

Dunn said he believes the number of people homeless or living in a weekly rental unit is growing.

“It is getting worse,” he said. “Myself, I don’t see it letting up.

“As long as they don’t know (the homeless) are out there or don’t want to recognize they are out there, it is not going to get better.”

Dunn said his goal is to help the people in need but he hopes to also make others aware of the problem.

“If I help just one person, I feel like I accomplished something,” he said.

Point in Time organizers are looking for donations of backpacks and bags, bottled water, toothpaste, toothbrushes, small pop-top canned goods and snacks.

The count is sponsored by the Governor’s Committee to End Homelessness in Missouri.

In July last year, the Taney County Point in Time Count surveyed 228 people, 192 lived in weekly rentals and 36, including 9 children, were unsheltered.

The count completed in January this year surveyed 328 people. Of those surveys, 309 lived in weekly rentals and 19 were unsheltered.

For more information on how to help with the next count, contact Dunn at brucedunn@ymail.com or Michelle Harllee at mharllee@churcharmybranson.org or call (417) 339-3804 ext. 109

While the next homeless count is still months away, organizers are already busy preparing so they won’t miss a single person in need.

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