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Lamar County Homelessness Coalition – General Meeting

Members present were Delores and Guy Watts, Suzanne Patty, Cara Welch, Brittney White, Cary O’Connor, Klark Byrd, Judy Martin, Lindsey Jones, Kay McNeal, Jenny Wilson, Christi Compton, Keith Bollman, Pepper Peveto, Shannon Erickson, Karol Ackley, Sharon Blackshear, Derald Bulls, Dede Fasken, Shelly Braziel, and Denise Kornegay. 

The welcome and introductions were made, and the Consent Agenda was briefly reviewed and discussed. Motion by Klark Byrd to accept the items as presented. Second by Gary O’Connor. Members voted motion carried. 

Information items presented by Shelly Braziel: 

The residents of Horizon House will be taking the trolley to view Christmas lights as part of their Christmas at HH, providing hot chocolate and cookies. Shelly noted any of the members wanting to donate could do so before the end of the meeting. 

Committee Updates: 

Awareness: This committee is back on its feet. We have a new chair, Yesica Munguia. She is bilingual, so we hope this can help us reach more people. In addition, she has brought in new volunteers, and they will be pretty important during the PIT Count and Summit. 

Street outreach: Sharon Blackshear informed the group that they are giving out coats and other winter items called “Coats, Candy, and Cash” to people on the street, at the bus stops, and at the market square. After the holidays, they will be out with the UW brochure, so people know where to look for help. Derald Bulls of CitySquare told the group that next Wednesday, they would have a Girlfriends Event at CitySquare. There will be activities and a meal. They have some leftover coats if anyone is looking. Lastly, CitySquare fed many families for Thanksgiving and already has 3-400 people to provide food for Christmas. Youngs Chapel will be cooking. 

Youth: Brittany is trying to get new members for this committee, given the first meeting was not well attended. However, they are working hard to get up and running in the schools. Anyone interested in joining this committee should contact Brittany White. 

Summit: This is for April 22, 2022, at PJC in the Continuing Education Department. Speakers are coming from around the state and local agencies in Paris and Lamar County. We also need agency involvement from Paris to have someone available for the breakout group/speakers. 

A list of the officers for 2022 was presented to the group with Denise Kornegay as the President, Shelly Braziel as Vice President, Dede Fasken as Secretary, and Judy Martin as Treasurer. Motion by Jenny Wilson to approve the 2022 officers, second by Klark Byrd. Members voted – motion carried. 

President Kornegay then addressed membership about warming stations this winter. The Coalition needs to be prepared and proactive this year before the cold weather hits. HH doesn’t have the staffing to be open at night; however, they will have morning stations available where any individual can come inside and have a hot meal/drink and warm up. These are starting immediately, and shelly will keep the dates and times posted at the shelter and on Facebook; however, they are for 8:00 to 11:00 am each day. Anyone is welcome to refer someone and avoid a sign-in or questions to create any barrier. In addition, anyone can take a bag of food, hygiene, and blanket when they leave. The Coalition would like to set a meeting with City officials and churches to see if we can get more involvement this year. This year, we would like to have more than one overnight warming station with city involvement. 

PIT is for January 27, 2022. It is a Point In Time count of the homeless population around the country. We will compile the data for our area and submit it to state and federal organizations. 

We will be setting up tables for a resource fair at the Salvation Army that day from 11-1, which will correspond with the bread line and lunch. We ask various agencies to set up tables and provide information about their services to anyone who attends. We will also be handing out bags to those participating in the PIT count, including food, drinks, hygiene items, socks, etc.; before the 27th, we will have a day set aside for anyone interested in helping us prepare the bags. 

We will have a pre-canvassing meeting before the actual count to figure out where we will send out teams on the actual day of the count. HH residents have volunteered to help us locate tent cities around Paris. The hope is that the homeless will feel more comfortable talking with them than our volunteers, thus providing more information. 

Mandatory training will be on January 10 at 2:00 at the Federal Programs Office behind Paris Junior High. If you are going to assist with the count, THN requires you to attend the training. 

BackHome Coalition and LCHC merging: Before now, there were two coalitions in our area: (1) BH has nine rural counties, but it’s not well populated, (2) LCHC is designated solely for Lamar County. This year, Safe-T decided to no longer provide housing and focus solely on sheltering DV victims. Because of this, they are no longer doing Coordinated Entry, which administers HMIS. The decision was to dissolve the two coalitions and merge/create one new – Red River Valley Homeless Coalition. It will begin in February and will include applying for 501c3 status. Any agency in the Coalition that could be an entry point should contact the RAM Foundation for funding to get the training and software. 

LCHC does have some money in its bank account. However, the Board felt the funds could be spent for PIT and the resource fair to keep the money local. 

Gary O’Connor motioned to use the LCHC money on PIT, and any funds remaining can be gifted to HH. Second by Kay McNeal. Members voted – motion carried. 

Summit – the members, discussed charging a nominal fee for attendance at the Summit, which most felt was a good idea. They will provide refreshments and door prizes, and Derald Bulls suggested we provide CEUs for those attending. Before COVID canceled our initial Summit, it was in place, but Shelly will contact Tanteta and see who she spoke with at PJC. 

Derald Bulls announced that CitySquare has openings for their internships. They provide a salary and an educational stipend at the end of the semester. CitySquare provides these internships three times a year. 

The new Majors at Salvation Army introduced themselves and said they are looking forward to working with the Coalition during PIT. 

At this time, Shelly Braziel led the members on a tour of Horizon House. 

Meeting Adjourned 1:15 pm.