Many volunteers came out to Smokey Point on Jan. 23 to help count the local homeless population during the national Point in Time Count.
The day is meant to measure homeless populations around the country and specifically counts people who did not have shelter the previous night.
“Today we’re doing the Point in Time Count, which is where we go out and count the homeless in our area so that we can assess the need,” said Peggy Ray, program manager at the Arlington Community Resource Center and the north Snohomish County lead for the Point in Time Count.
The count is volunteer run and is important for groups that support homeless individuals.
“This day is meant for the community to come together and identify the number of homeless individuals here,” said John Cruz, Worksource Disabled Veteran Outreach Program Coordinator.
“We give that number to the county so we can get grants and funds to provide for homeless people,” he said.
Ray said that funding is more available when you can show how many homeless individuals are in your area.
“It’s very important to assess the need because without that, without knowing, as agencies we can’t get funding to come into our centers to help these folks,” she said. “Last year through the Point in Time Count, we were able to house 77 families. That's 162 people. And that’s because we knew the need in the area."
Ray helps cover the Marysville, Arlington, Lake Stevens, Granite Falls and Tulalip areas and last year counted more than 100 homeless individuals in those regions.
Brandon Calindas was one of those counted last year and he came out this year to volunteer for the event.
“I have 90 days of sobriety today and my big inspiration and supporters have been the Arlington Community Resource Center, as well as the Arlington Police Department,” Calindas said. “I just wanted to pay back my support and appreciation."
Calindas said he had been homeless for about four years off an on.
This last year, he said, the Snohomish County embedded social worker program and the Arlington Community Resource Center had helped him.
“They helped me transition and encouraged me a lot to get into treatment and with all the followup,” he said.
“Volunteering helps me stay out of my stuff, it keeps me busy and productive and I feel happy about myself today, just being able to participate in this unselfishly,” he said.
Ray also helps organize services and resources for homeless individuals during the day.
“Besides housing, the three biggest requests are food, laundry and showers, so we try to supply all three of those,” said Ray.
Local organizations helped provide showers and food while Smokey Point laundromat Suds ’N Duds provided their space for the day.
"Giving our resources helps homeless people and also encourages them to come down to Smokey Point to get counted," said Ray.
“People will actually come to us and we don’t have to go into the encampments and bother their areas and disturb their stuff,” she said.
Cruz said he helped people through Worksource last year, although this year he had other volunteering duties.
“One of my categories to help is with homeless veterans, so whenever they meet a veteran who is homeless it’s my job to try and help them with resources,” he said.
“This helps us be a hand up, not just a hand out, because we can do those wraparound services for people here,” said Ray.
Ray wanted to thank everyone who helped during the Point in Time Count.
“All our partnering agencies have been amazing. The community has been amazing with all the donations and supporting our community,” she said.