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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • L-HOT thanks volunteers for homeless count

  • HONESDALE- A representative of the Behavioral and Developmental Health department made a presentation about the “Homeless Point-in-Time Count” during the weekly meeting of the Wayne County Commissioners.
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  • HONESDALE- A representative of the Behavioral and Developmental Health department made a presentation about the “Homeless Point-in-Time Count” during the weekly meeting of the Wayne County Commissioners.
    The “Homeless Point-in-Time Count” is an initiative through the Wayne County Quality Council's Local Housing Options Team (L-HOT).
    The L-HOT committee “works to identify local housing needs, expand housing options and find long term solutions to housing and homlessnesss related issues.”
    On Wednesday, Jan. 29, L-HOT and many volunteers scoured the county “looking for vulnerable individuals in need.” That night it was “very cold.”
    “The definition of homeless according L-HOT is anyone sleeping in a car, barn, ditch, places like that,” said Cynthia Matthews from the Behavioral and Developmental Health department and a member of the Wayne County Quality Council. “We found three people who met that criteria. There were seven total we offered assistance to, providing them with information for programs that may help them and the shelter Grace Episcopal Church provides.”
    Matthews said this initiative “brings a lot of community awareness.”
    There were 65 volunteers who assisted. Of those volunteers, 53 looked for individuals who might need assistance.
    Others cooked and baked to provide a “warm hearty meal prior their service.”
    There was assistance from Wayne County Emergency Management, providing information to keep volunteers safe; the Wayne County Planning Department, creating maps highlighting common places someone may try to make shelter; and the Browndale Fire Company, who had nine members help look for people in “very rural areas of the county.”
    Wayne County employees from various departments volunteered including the Commissioners office, Court Administration, Children and Youth, the Behavioral and Developmental Program and Early Intervention, Fiscal, Maintenance and the 911 center.
    Matthews said local emergency responders and law enforcement also shared information about people they knew might be in need.
    “This is the second time we've done this,” she said. “The counts are supposed to be done twice a year, in January and July.”
    Commissioner Wendall Kay was among those who volunteered.
    “I was happy to participate,” he said. “It was my first experience participating and I'm certain to do it again. It was well organized. Everyone was trained and had maps.
    “The committee did a great job pulling it together. It was very cold that night, but everyone got out of their vehicles to search and there was no sense of a hurry to get it done.”
    Matthews said they are “delighted” only three people were found.
    Page 2 of 3 - “This was just for that particular point in time,” she said. “We can't make people take help or make them go to a shelter. There are many folks who say they aren't looking for a handout.”
    Commissioner Brian Smith said he appreciates the people donated their time “to identify people in need.”
    “This is encouraging that only three people were found and out of those three nobody was in bad enough shape to say get me food now,” Smith said. “It could have been worse.”
    He added with the amount of money people pay for fuel to heat their homes, it's “surprising” there aren't a lot freezing to death “because of the economy.”
    “We haven't been in good shape with this winter,” Smith stated. “So that number is good.”
    Matthews said there's a chance they may find more people in the summer.
    “People are more likely to stay with a relative or friend in the winter,” she said.
    “Some people probably don't want to be found either,” added Kay.
    “We're very appreciative of the compassion from the volunteers,” Matthews said. “It was overwhelming with everyone who came and the amount of donations we got.”
    She said donations included hats, gloves, blankets, hand warmers, granola bars, water, toiletries and more.
    “Each of them received a care package,” she said. “They included information about where they can go and programs that are available as well.”
    “The compassion has been positive throughout this,” said Commissioner Jonathan Fritz. “It showed how vested the county employees and volunteers are. I give a big thank you to everyone involved in this.”
    The Wayne County Quality Council and L-HOT thank everyone who helped out during the “Homeless Point-in-Time Count.”
    Other business
    • A letter from the Wayne County Food Pantry was received. It provided a summary of how the pantries did in 2013.
    Mary Murray, who wrote the letter, said 2013 was their “busiest year” in the 30-some years is has been in existence.
    There were 407 calls answered and there were 717 adults and 563 children (a total of 1,280) served.
    Murray stated generosity from donors and volunteers “makes this possible.” She also said they are “forever grateful.”
    Donations are always accepted and can be dropped off at 100 4th Street on Mondays between 1 and 3 p.m.
    • The following promotions and salary board were approved:
    Page 3 of 3 - • Robert Lesniak: Promotion from caseworker 1 to caseworker 2 in the Children and Youth Services (CYS), effective March 3.
    The salary was set for $32,024.70, 35C.
    • Audra Borowski: Promotion from caseworker 1 to caseworker 2 in the Children and Youth Services (CYS), effective March 3.
    The salary was set for $33,473.25, 35D.
    Chief Clerk Vicky Botjer said an individual can be eligible for promotion to caseworker 2 after a working a minimum of six months and completing all the training.
    She also stated the type of position (35C and 35D for Lesniak and Borowski) is based on education level.
    • Robert Miller: Part time to full time social service aid in the Behavioral and Developmental Program and Early Intervention department, effective March 3.
    The salary was set for $20,612.48, 25C.

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