My first question to Tim Sandiford, Regional Volunteer Coordinator for Central San Diego, was “what are you doing here at 4am?” He answered:
“The PITC uses different categories such as sheltered from non-sheltered homeless in their count. This is a good time for the count as those not in shelters are nestled down. Once the shelters let out at 8am, we would be unable to establish this difference.”
The region Tim coordinates includes Mission Bay, Old Town, Sports Arena, Ocean Beach, and Point Loma.
As Tim, both well prepared and skillfully organized, handed out maps to the counting teams, I was able to speak with a couple of volunteers.
Nancy Matloff, a first time volunteer, connected with PITC through Health Care for Homeless Veterans. She believed about 30% of this mornings volunteers work at the VA and the rest are involved in social services in one way or another.
Mona Oge from the VA was there as well. When asked what brought her out at this early hour, she said,
“(We) can’t provide services if you don’t know how many you are serving.”
Once the warmly dressed crowd of 30+ set out, I inquired with Tim as to where these early risers were from.
“About 90% of the volunteers are from HUD funded programs such as social services, VA, and VVSD. The other 10% are regular folks who saw our ads in the paper. Last year PITC had 350 volunteers and this year 550 people volunteered.”
Counting Teams were asked to indicate on their map grid whether the homeless they observed were individuals, in vehicles, or in a makeshift structure. PITC has met weekly since October, 2010, to pull this together so well.
I asked Tim how others could help end homelessness. His response,
“I would like to see my fellow Obceans help out. Each individual has personal strengths in one area or another. Instead of asking ‘what can I do to help?’ begin asking yourself ‘what can I offer?’ This way each individual can contribute their personal strengths toward ending homelessness.”
Tom Ziegert, Pastor at Point Loma Methodist Church connected with PITC through the Forums on Homelessness held in OB last year.
“When I attended the Forums, at first, it was about homelessness, now it was about OB.”
He contributed what he could by welcoming the PITC volunteers into the church to use as their meeting point.
Sandy Borum, Peer Outreach Specialist, VVSD was also there. She provided information on resources currently available to Veterans. She introduced Courage To Call, a toll free 24/7 helpline that provides free, confidential info, guidance, and referrals to Veterans, Military, Reservists, National Guards, and their families. This helpline is answered by post 9/11 vets. It also serves women vets with children and families. All it takes is the … Courage To Call (877) 698-7838.
By 5am three volunteers returned with their count finished. 5:30am two more arrived back at the church. As each team returned from their count, they spoke with Tim about their observations and handed in their map grids which now contained an actual count of the homeless. One team invited one of the local homeless to join them on their count. “He’s been around OB for quite some time and was familiar with the other homeless in OB.” one team volunteer offered.
By 6am, the coffee I downed at 3:30am was beginning to wear off and I could see Tim was about to have his hands full with the returning crowd. Thanking everyone involved, I headed home to write this up and go back to sleep.
Part 2 tomorrow ~ PITC surveys homeless at Second Chance breakfast.
For more information on PITC through the Regional Task Force on the Homeless