Homeless shelter celebrates 1 year; Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week set

By Eddie Mowen Jr. - emowen@civitasmedia.com

EATON — The H.I.T. Foundation (Home Is The Foundation) recently recognized the one-year anniversary of its homeless shelter which opened in October 2015. The shelter is located on U.S. 127, just north of Eaton, and is a part of the organization’s homeless services program.

In the past 12 months, the facility has provided shelter, food and basic needs for more than 50 homeless persons from Preble County. The facility has been occupied at some level for the entire time it has been open and has been at, or near, capacity for much of that time.

The shelter program offers overnight sleeping arrangements, three meals a day, basic hygiene and other necessities. Case management services are also provided to assist clients in identifying and obtaining permanent housing.

The shelter provides dorm-style sleeping facilities and accommodates up to 10 clients at one time. It also includes common areas open throughout the daytime and evening hours. Clients are able to stay in the shelter throughout the day, if needed. Those staying at the shelter are expected to adhere to basic rules and schedules, including an evening curfew.

Common areas offer computer and telephone access to assist clients in job seeking, finding available housing and other tasks. The facility is also staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Primary meals are provided by area churches and other volunteers.

“The community has been very supportive with meals and other donations,” Deron Newman, Homeless Services manager said. “Area churches have taken it upon themselves to provide dinner each night and that has been a tremendous help. I can’t thank them enough.”

Case management includes a variety of services, including referrals to other agencies for assistance, helping identify and apply for appropriate benefits and programs, and advocating for clients with landlords for housing. The agency also provides daytime transportation for clients with medical appointments, job searches, and other basic needs.

“Homelessness and the issues that go with it are a part of every community, including Preble County,” Newman added. “It may not be something we want to talk about, but it is here — and we need to continue to work to assist those in need.”

To bring awareness to homelessness across the nation, Nov. 12-20 is designated as National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Throughout the week, local and national organizations offer community events and resources in an effort to raise awareness.

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, “National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week is held each year the week before Thanksgiving. This is a time for us all to start to think about what we are thankful for, a perfect time to share our compassion with our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness, and work toward a world where no one has to experience Hunger and Homelessness.

“H&H week offers the chance to contribute to a national social movement. NCH’s aim is and always will be to eradicate homelessness by solving the root causes of it. We aim for activism in this vein. For this year’s H&H week we are focusing on the laws passed by local governments around the nation which prevent people experiencing homelessness from doing life-sustaining activities. Let’s bring light to this issue, pressure lawmakers and Bring America Home together!”

Locally, two special events are planned. The H.I.T. Foundation, along with the Preble County Mental Health and Recovery Board and the YWCA Preble County Shelter Services, will be hosting a “Movie Night at Cold Shelter” on Tuesday, Nov. 15. The event will be held at the established cold shelter location, Eaton Church of the Nazarene, 400 Lexington Avenue, Eaton. It will be held from 6:30-8 p.m.

A screening of the file “Hunger in America” will be shown to help raise awareness and fight hunger in local neighborhoods. Admission for the evening will be one non-perishable food item to be distributed to local food pantries. Refreshments will also be provided.

Homelessness will be the focus of the second event, held on the following Thursday at the Preble County Courthouse, Eaton. The public is invited to attend “One Night Without a Home” which will begin at 6:30 p.m. A special ceremony and candle lit vigil will be held as part of the initial activities. Then, those in attendance will be encouraged to spend the night on the courthouse lawn as a way to bring awareness to homelessness.

Those wishing to stay overnight should bring appropriate items such as tents, blankets, etc. For more information contact the H.I.T. Foundation at 937-442-0500.


By Eddie Mowen Jr.