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Volunteers, donations needed for Homelessness Resource Day in Hagerstown

Groups to offer help with food, housing, identification, health care, literacy, mental health and employment

January 15, 2012|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • The Aspiring to Serve building at 140 W. Franklin St., will host a Homelessness Resource Day in Hagerstown on March 3. The event will offer help with food, housing, identification, health care, literacy, mental health and employment, among other issues.
Herald-Mail file photo

The Washington County Homeless Coalition is seeking volunteers and donors to help with a March 3 Homelessness Resource Day in Hagerstown, coalition President Cindy Hockenbury said.

The coalition plans to bring together as many local service providers as possible to create a one-stop shop for services that assist homeless and nearly homeless individuals and families, she said.

"A lot of the major complaints we get in the community with all of us that provide services are that people have to kind of run around in a circle to get connected," said Jodie Ostoich, executive director of REACH of Washington County. "So this is an attempt to try to bring everything under one roof."

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Aspiring to Serve building at 140 W. Franklin St., and will offer help with food, housing, identification, health care, literacy, mental health and employment, among other issues, Hockenbury said.

Each participant will be provided with a free lunch, and a bag of food and personal care items, she said.

Organizers are seeking donations of items for the bags, such as trial-size toiletries, energy bars, crackers and water, Hockenbury said.

Organizers are also seeking volunteers to work in two-hour shifts as food servers, setup and cleanup assistants, intake assistants, parking assistants, and guides to accompany individuals and families around the event.

There will be mandatory training for volunteers before the event, organizers said. They are hoping to have 200 or more volunteers.

Volunteers who serve as intake assistants and guides should be adults who are knowledgeable about community resources, Hockenbury said.

Organizers are also seeking financial support to provide T-shirts for volunteers, she said.

A Spanish translator will be available. The coalition is also seeking someone who could provide Russian translation, Ostoich said.

People who attend are encouraged to bring paperwork they might need to sign up for services, such as identification documents and income verification, she said.

"If they don't have any of that, that shouldn't stop them from coming," Ostoich added.

The coalition received  $5,000 in seed money for the event from the state, distributed through the Washington County Department of Social Services, Ostoich said. Money raised by the homeless coalition through pancake breakfasts will also go toward costs of the event, she said.

Chick-Fil-A has agreed to donate 350 sandwiches for the event, Hockenbury said.

"We're very thankful for that," she said.

Organizers will spread the word about the event to people living in shelters and families identified by the school system as being "in transition."

They're also hoping to reach families that are "doubled up," living with relatives or another family, Ostoich said.

"We really don't know how many people to expect," Ostoich said.

Hockenbury said organizers' best guess is that they will have 100 to 150 people.


If you go...

What: Homelessness resource day

Where: Aspiring to Serve building, 140 W. Franklin St., Hagerstown

When: Saturday, March 3, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information: Contact Cindy Hockenbury at 301-797-4161, ext. 130, or send an email to chockenbury@wccac.org.


How to help

To sign up to volunteer, call Jodie Ostoich or Jill Parker at 301-733-2371.

To donate items for bags, call Belinda Corbett at 301-790-0275.

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