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Groups bringing awareness to hungry and homeless

November 10, 2012
By Karin Elton , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - In the middle of all the election fervor and holiday preparations, two community organizations would like to remind the public of area people who don't have a home to call their own and/or those who are having trouble putting food on the table.

Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week is today through Sunday, Nov. 18, and Western Community Action and The Refuge-a Fresh Start are coordinating activities all week to raise awareness.

"We would like to invite the community to get involved with the awareness of hunger and homelessness in Lyon County," said Angela Larson, community and family support director. "As many know there are many of our brothers and sisters in Lyon County that experience homelessness and/or hunger."

Larson said they are encouraging churches to participate in activities that will raise awareness of homelessness and hunger.

Other community events include the "Oral Histories of Homelessness" exhibit from the St. Steven Church of Minneapolis on display Nov. 10-18 at the Marshall-Lyon County Library.

"It's a series of portraits of families who have experienced homelessness," she said. "You call a number to hear their personal story."

Fact Box

Angela Larson, Western Community Action community and family support director, said statistics that WCA and The Refuge have gathered show that there is a need for help for people experiencing homelessness in Lyon County.

People served by WCA in Lyon county in 12 month period:

No. households children individuals

Emergency Shelter (Hotel stay) 58 21 89

Rental Assistance to homeless households 42 34 79

Homeless prevention 41 31 81

141 86 249

Households served by

The Refuge-a Fresh Start 40 26 82

Homelessness in Minnesota facts

13,100 Minnesotans are homeless in any given night

32% live in Greater Minnesota

34% of Minnesota's homeless population are children

At least 2,500 unaccompanied youth are homeless on any given night a 46% increase since 2006

20% of homeless adult men are military veterans

30% of homeless adult women are fleeing domestic violence

Usage of the Food Shelf in Lyon County

In 2001, there were 1,005 household visits to the Kitchen Table Food Shelves,

In 2011 there were 6,184 household visits.

In addition to raising awareness of this troubling issue, Western Community Action and The Refuge-a Fresh Start have to keep an eye on their budgets.

"WCA and the Refuge have been faced with an unexpected challenge this funding year," Larson said. "Each organization was awarded grant funds that help support our efforts to serve those with no shelter. However, in June 2012 we learned that our grant money for July 2012-June 2013 was now required to be matched. A dollar-for-dollar match is required, totaling $62,500 between the two organizations. While each organization does have some funds available for match, we still need to raise funds to meet our goal. If funds are not able to be raised, money received to shelter the homeless in our area may have to be sent back to the state.

Larson said fund-raisers such as an ice cream social will take place to support their programs.



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