About 175 people attended the homeless forum Monday (Jan. 31st) at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library. And nearly all of them were there when we ended the forum two hours later. That shows me that people were interested in what was said and that they care enough to find ways to help.
Thank you to our speakers for sharing their personal experiences. I think one of the most valuable parts of the forum was "Putting a Face on the Homeless." It dispels the caricatures people create whenever they think of people who are homeless. As I said, many of us are only one paycheck, one credit card payment or one medical emergency away from being on the streets ourselves.
Thanks to Rich, Sue and Bob who told us about the programs that are in place and the projects that are being worked on to eliminate homelessness. One has only to take a long look at the weather people are enduring lately to realize being without a home is a terrible position to be in. The health issues they face, the lack of security when they lay down to sleep. How do they endure it?
My biggest thanks go out to Connie Pascale who arranged for the speakers to be there and tell about the housing issues we face in Ocean County.
My only regret is that we did not have elected officials present. To accomplish our mutual goals of eliminating homelessness requires a collaborative effort between local businesses, local government and the citizens of Ocean County.
Many thanks to the Rotary clubs and Kiwanis clubs that sponsored the forum, to the Circle K, Key Clubs and Interact clubs that participated, to the church groups that regularly offer their locations to provide temporary housing and food kitchens, and to the many volunteer groups that supported the forum. And thanks to all the people who stepped forward and offered to help.
You people are the best. And I am grateful for your concern.
An article about the forum appeared in today's Asbury Park Press. The link to the article is: http://www.app.com/article/20110201/NJNEWS/102010357/Toms-River-forum-tells-how-homelessness-can-t-always-avoided?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Frontpage