Women‘s Giving Circle forms Connections of Cumberland County to help homeless women and children
From its homelessness research, the Women’s Giving Circle of Cumberland County saw a shortage of services for the county’s women and children who live on the streets.
The result: a nine-member steering committee agreed on a need for the newly formed Connections of Cumberland County Inc.
“We hope to grow,” said Patty Collie, president of Connections of Cumberland County and a member of the Women’s Giving Circle. “When you read the definition of homeless children, it’s just a very sad kind of situation. They’re basically trying to find shelter and sleeping accommodations that are not for human beings.”
Connections of Cumberland County, a nonprofit corporation, has evolved with a vision. The agency, so far, has nailed down three priorities:
Establish a facility – a day resources center – for homeless women and children.
Provide additional emergency shelter beds for homeless women and children.
Create more transitional housing for the less fortunate.
Collie said the initiative is necessary since most community support for the homeless is geared toward men.
Since October 2010, the group’s steering committee has held a couple of “think tanks,” as Collie put it, in hopes of alerting the community on the issue. City and county law enforcement, religious representatives and service providers, she said, attended to join in the conversation on what Fayetteville and Cumberland County can do to help homeless women and children.
“We really feel like we’re being led to do this rather than make it happen,” Collier said. “There are gaps, and the gaps are real, and we felt the need to do something about it.”
Collie said 600 children were counted as homeless in the 2009-10 school term, according to Cumberland County schools statistics. Last year, that number had increased to 877. And those, she pointed out, are only the destitute school-age youth enrolled in the public schools.
“That number is probably lower than the real number is,” she said. “The numbers are continuing to grow.”
According to the latest Cumberland Interfaith Hospitality Network count, conducted 11 months ago, the number of homeless children was 357, with 225 unsheltered.
Startup costs for the project, Collie estimated, would range from about $750,000 to $1 million. But in the long run, she said, Connections of Cumberland County’s facilities would save the city and county money by having emergency services for the homeless housed in one spot.
“There is a tremendous amount of interest,” she said. “We just need to build a connection.”