Our community is fortunate to have multiple organizations across the area who are dedicated to serving people and groups experiencing marginalization. The Heart of Texas Homeless Coalition is one such collective, and NeighborWorks Waco could not be prouder to participate.

Annually, a collection of groups concerned with alleviation of poverty and homelessness will come together to pull off an impressive initiative: the Point in Time count (PIT). This is a coordinated effort with groups, organizations, and volunteers across the city to make contact with all of the people experiencing homelessness or displacement.

In the wee hours of the morning, volunteers are trekking through often overlooked or neglected sections of the city to reach to find and talk with individuals experiencing homelessness. Those volunteers use a questionnaire to assess our opportunities to serve this marginalized population. The data from the count is then used to secure funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), so our organizations can better care for the people in our community.

Because it can be a large and unwieldy coordinated effort, this requires strategic planning. NeighborWorks Waco’s staff and leadership have for years been involved in planning these annual PIT counts, and can be found traipsing through mudded woods on the morning of the event.

To ensure that the PIT count is successful and accurate, an event is hosted every summer and winter. Project Homeless Connect is a collection of free gifts and services, such as free clothing, haircuts, pet care and HIV testing for individuals experiencing homelessness. At this event NeighborWorks Waco staff volunteer for the “intake” table. We love to be the smiling faces that greet our community members.

This is one of our favorite events of the year, because so many different groups team up to focus our attention on a pervasive issue within the community. With all of these services and organizations collected in one place, the event draws a lot of attention and allows us to meet new friends from around the community.

This year’s Winter Project Homeless Connect was a huge success, and the NeighborWorks Waco team cannot wait for the Summer version, which we host at our site!