Betty Rodgers has worked at the
Cabell-Huntington Coalition for the Homeless for 15 years. Before that she was in the shoes of the very
people she now helps.
“Being homeless myself, living on the
streets I know what it means. It means hope. It means a life and it means a new
beginning, been there done that, so when I see these guys come through you can
see it in there face because they know they have someone that cares and someone
wants to be there with a helping hand and take them through the steps that need
to be done,” Rodgers said.
The coalition provides facilities for
those wanting to find a way off the street at three different locations and operates
a day shelter where homeless can get out of the elements. Those that use the
residences are part of a program that helps them find employment, get medical
help and learn to be productive in a work environment. Rodgers said the people
there are just looking for help.
“I relate and I understand what they
feel and I know what I did to survive and they will, so yes it’s a big opening
here for these guys. Some places don’t have even a third of what we have here
to give to these guys. When you have hope and people that care it makes a whole
lot of difference because you’re already down and you feel like you’re
worthless until somebody says you’re worth more than just being on the streets,”
The number of homeless in the state of
West Virginia rose by 9 percent from 2011 to 2012 according to the United States
Departments of Housing and Urban Development. The Harmony house day shelter saw
642 adults and 109 children come through their doors last year.
“I’ve had a young lady that we got off
the streets and when she got an apartment she didn’t know how to sleep in her
bed because she was so used to sleeping on the river bend. So I went to her home
and saw what she had and she had a ledge. We started with her sleeping on a
ledge at night and coming to her home in the daytime. It’s re-channeling the
thoughts and the minds,” Rodger said.
Breanne Akers is the Director of Development.
She said the Cabell-Huntington Coalition for the Homeless is unique.
“We would like to be considered a
one-stop shop where a person that’s homeless can come through the door and
access a variety of services at one time instead of having to hit 6 or 7
different places. We have a nurse practitioner. We have dental services, things
like that,” Akers said.
Akers said with new direction at the
coalition they hope to add facilities as well as change and revamp current ones
to better help those in need.
“We want to bring in many more services
that we just don’t have here and we also want to improve the services that we
do have. We’ve had some of these programs for a long time and as programs age
sometimes the focus is lost or the goal is lost, so we’re working to improve
internally and expand,” Akers said.
Akers said Thursdays Hometown Breakfast
serves as their biggest fundraiser of the year while recognizing those in the
community that help.
“We’ll be recognizing a few key people
that have helped us throughout the year. One of our awards is going to the
Marshall University medical outreach team. We’re also recognizing Little
Caesars Pizza. They donate their leftovers to use every day and we pick those
up and we’re able to put those out and the people that are here are able to get
something to eat,” Akers said.
The Hometown Breakfast is Thursday
morning at 7:30 at the Palms in downtown Huntington.
To help the Cabell-Huntington Coalition
for the Homeless contact Breanne Akers at (304) 654-9413.