Rescue Mission launches campaign to address panhandling and homelessness

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News release from the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission:

With Shelter Numbers on the Rise, Mission Launches Campaign to Address Panhandling and Homelessness

(June 26, 2014) – On Saturday, June 28, 2014, at the 5th Annual South Side Fest, The Rescue Mission will launch an initiative to address panhandling and homelessness. The launch will occur in the wake of the State’s release of the results of this year’s Point-in-Time Homeless Count.

“This year’s count showed a 2% decrease in the number of homeless people in Indiana. That’s 381 homeless in our area on the day of the count. It’s not consistent with what we’re seeing in our Emergency Shelter. We had a 4% increase in Emergency Shelter residents and housed an average of 149 people every day. If the count is accurate, over 1/3 of the city’s homeless are staying at the Mission, which simply can’t be true,” says Donovan Coley, CEO at The Rescue Mission.

“Real Change, Not Spare Change” is a campaign designed to help the community find positive ways to help people without enabling. The goal is to create awareness in the community about how to effectively encourage real change in the lives of the needy. It focuses on panhandling as a symptom of much greater problems, such as poverty, trauma, mental health issues, and a lack of education.

“In the past, the homeless problem in this city was invisible. In the last few years, it’s become very evident. Seeing panhandlers on the street makes us uncomfortable. We avoid eye contact or give a dollar to stop the guilt. People want to help but don’t know how. Ft. Wayne isn’t New York, and we are NOT powerless to fix the problem. We believe Real Change is a compre¬hensive solution to the issue. It’s about meeting people where they are and giving them real solutions for real problems. If we can band together as a community, we can work to address the root causes of panhandling before it starts. No one can do it alone.” says Richard Cummins, the Mission’s Chief Development Officer.

The Rescue Mission is challenging other non-profit organizations, businesses, churches and individuals to identify what they can do to foster Real Change and come together as partners of the campaign.

The South Side Fest will take place June 28, 2014 from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Ivy Tech South Campus/Public Safety Academy (7602 Patriot Crossing). The Fest attracts a diverse crowd of people and serves as a family-friendly celebration of the positive things happening on the city’s south side. The event includes a car show, live music, food and merchandise vendors, children’s activities, and more.

For more information, visit www.realchangenotsparechange.org or contact Donovan Coley at 260.426.7357 ext 113.

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