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One-stop day of services takes homeless one step closer to a fresh start

February 24, 2013|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
By Chad Trovinger/Graphic Designer

On any given day, hundreds of people in Washington County have no place to call home.

Instead, they live in shelters, a friend’s basement or in their cars, their possessions crammed in the trunk and their lives in disarray.

Many of them haven’t given up on the dream of a fresh start. They just need a little help, according to those with help to offer.

In an effort to assist homeless and nearly homeless individuals and families throughout the community, a one-stop day of services will be offered Saturday, March 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Aspiring to Serve building at 140 W. Franklin St. in Hagerstown.

About 32 vendors providing information on topics such as housing, health care, education and employment will be on hand at the event, aptly called Homeless Resource Day.

Sponsored by the Washington County Homeless Coalition, “one of our goals is to try and provide, under one roof, all of the services and connections people need,” said Cindy Hockenbury, coalition president.

This is the second year for the event, which is made possible by a state grant distributed through the Washington County Department of Social Services.

Last year, more than 150 people attended the event, surpassing organizers’ expectations.

Hockenbury anticipates another big turnout this year.

“It’s still difficult out there,” she noted. “The economy is still teetering and people are struggling.”

Hockenbury said those attending the event are encouraged to bring paperwork, such as identification documents, that they might need to sign up for services.

The coalition also has coordinated with the Washington County Health Department and the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration to offer help getting Maryland birth certificates and receiving or renewing Maryland state identification, Hockenbury said.

To obtain a birth certificate, a person must bring a government-issued photo ID or submit two documents with his or her name and current address.

To obtain a state ID, an individual must bring one document to prove age and identity; one document to prove he or she possesses a valid Social Security number or proof of ineligibility for a Social Security number; one document to prove lawful status; and two residency documents.

A Spanish translator is expected to be on hand. Volunteers also will be available to assist participants during the event.

Each person in attendance will be provided with a free lunch, Hockenbury said, as well as a bag that includes personal-care items, bus passes and small gift certificates

“We’ve had some great community support to provide these items,” she said, “and we’re really thankful.”

Hockenbury said organizers have been spreading the word about the event through area agencies, who have posted fliers in lobbies and on bulletin boards.

She hopes people also will hear about it through word-of-mouth.

“We hope to reach as many people as possible who could benefit from this service event,” she said. “We know there are a large number of homeless in our community who we want to assist. But we also want to help those on the cusp of homelessness.”

If you go ...

What: Homeless Resource Day
Where: Aspiring to Serve building, 140 W. Franklin St., Hagerstown
When: Saturday, March 2, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information: Contact Cindy Hockenbury at 301-797-4161, ext. 130

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