Homelessness is seen everywhere, even in the towns where one would think not. In reality, unpredictable events can leave any individual or family homeless. These include eviction, natural disasters, lack of affordable housing, domestic violence, unemployment, prison release into society, and substance abuse.
Sharon Edwards, an inspiring woman from Thomasville, Georgia, created a non-profit organization in 2010 called Community Outreach Training Center, for she saw a need in the community to help the less fortunate youth and their families. The organization is aimed towards the homeless population, very low to moderate income families, and those seeking employment and career development.
“The impact on the community is seeing homeless families transition from emergency situations to temporary to even permanent residency. Through the organization, I have met lifelong friends and I received the benefit of knowing I made a difference,” Sharon Edwards expressed. “Homelessness to me is to be precariously housed, those without adequate safe and sustained housing, those with limited or no plumbing in their home, or have a home but have no utilities or running water.”
According to their data, the number of families that are serviced doubles each year. With the help of generous donors, Community Outreach Training Center offers hotel vouchers when funds are available. Up to two nights are paid for, giving the person in need a place to rest their head. In extreme cases, more nights are provided. Assistance with jobs is provided by referring the client to agencies that offer job services. “It has changed over the years by adding new services, reaching families in need, and serving a broader audience in counties, for we expanded our counties from Thomas County,” exclaimed Sharon Edwards
On May 6th, 2017, the organization participated in a one-day event called Project Homeless Connect, which aided the homeless community and less fortunate. Bags of groceries, clothing, hot meals, wash clothes, and hygiene packets along with free government phones for people who qualify were given out throughout the day. Through the event, many individuals were introduced to the organization and the following days, their office was filled with needy clients that wanted a change in their life.
“We host events in the fall, spring, and summer. They are the Project Homeless Connect events. Project Homeless Connect is the opportunity for us to connect the community with provided services and resources. Over the years, the event has grown to service nearly 200 individuals helped. The kindness in the event and my organization has provided for the needs of the human beings, the love that is shown to those in need is valued by those we serve. It’s a very humbling experience,” Sharon Edwards shares.
Homelessness can be ended with determination, time, and kindness. No matter how big or small an organization is, someone is impacted in a positive way in their journey for life. Impacted by the organization are the homeless along with the individuals who strive to end homelessness in a small community.