January 31, 2014
On the heels of the winter season’s first and perhaps only snowstorm, volunteers in Bladen County —spearheaded by the local Department of Social Services — conducted its first-ever count of homeless folks here.
We have always thought this effort should be a necessary effort for many reasons.
First and foremost, knowing how many and where these individuals are could go a long way for those with the resources to help them — not that all of those who are homeless want to be helped.
But everyone, regardless of circumstances and most especially during those not-so-nice weather days and nights, wants a warm place to sleep. Along with nourishment, shelter is one of our most basic needs.
Locating those in need is the first step toward having a far better chance of putting those in need together with the needs they have. Assigning individuals a number may seem callous to a degree, but necessary nonetheless.
Secondly, being able to move a homeless individual from the woods or off a bench and into a shelter or home will remove the temptation or need for incidents of crime. Not only will the individual be less likely to resort to stealing for some of the basic needs they have, but they will also not be a target for others.
In addition, a community that shows its compassion for those in need; a community where the haves share with the have-nots; and a community whose people offer a helping hand rather than cast an eye of ignorance is a blessed community that will not only reap the rewards of those who hear and see the results of that compassion, but will also be a model for other communities to do the same.
Some larger cities, such as Savannah, Ga., go so far as to register those who are homeless — a registration that is necessary for an individual to have access to the many services available to the homeless made possible by the local government agencies, church groups and civic organizations.
We may never get to that point. Nor is it necessary to. But any options available for Bladen County to lend a hand to those in need should be considered, and the count was the first important step.