Reaching the Homeless in Escambia County

On January 26, Tender Hearts Caring Hands participated in the U-Count Homeless Connect Expo held at the Salvation Army on Q Street in Pensacola. Organized by Opening Doors Northwest Florida, Inc., a local nonprofit dedicated to ending homelessness in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, this was the 6th annual U-Count event and included 52 local agencies that offered products and services focused on the needs of the homeless community.

More than 300 homeless clients attended the event and were offered a variety of products and services including 3 minute HIV tests, vaccines, haircuts, food, water, socks, blankets, ponchos, State of Florida ID cards and hygiene products as well as information on housing and job services. “This year was the first time Tender Hearts has been able to participate in the UCOUNT Expo,” said Kathleen Schuster, Program Manager for Tender Hearts Caring Hands. THCH was asked to provide men’s underwear – an item that everyone would agree is useful and needed, but rarely if ever donated. Kathie was able to distribute 122 pair of underwear and learned more about the needs of the participants and how she can prepare THCH to participate in next year’s expo.

The U-Count expo followed the January 22nd Homeless Census. Called the Point-In-Time Count, the annual census of area homeless “is an unduplicated count on a single night of the people in a community who are experiencing homelessness that includes both sheltered and unsheltered populations.” It is completed nationally, and the information collected is used to help determine community funding to address homelessness.

“It was such a blessing to be able to serve through this event,” said Kathie. “I’m already thinking of more ways our Tender Hearts ministry can help meet these needs throughout the year and at next year’s expo. We are also hoping that Tender Hearts can serve as a census site for the 2021 Point-In-Time Count, to be sure that the homeless we serve every day from our offices are included. The needs of our homeless community are so vast, and to see all these local organizations come together with such an overwhelming spirit of service is inspiring.”

❤️For more information on how you can serve our community through Tender Hearts Caring Hands, contact Kathleen Schuster (kschuster@ministryvillage.org) or call (850) 475-1118.

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