Bremerton prepares for Homelessness Awareness Week

Sally Santana is the voice of the Kitsap County homeless, and with Homelessness Awareness Week approaching Nov. 15, she is raising her voice in an attempt to spread the word.

Sally Santana is the voice of the Kitsap County homeless, and with Homelessness Awareness Week approaching Nov. 15, she is raising her voice in an attempt to spread the word.

“We have a very ambitious week of events planned and hope for maximum community involvement,” Santana said.

She organized a meeting Nov. 2 to talk with volunteers who are helping organize a bevy of events scheduled Nov. 15-21.

“We have had a lot of feedback from the community,” Santana said at Monday’s meeting. “The community is behind us.”

The schedule of events will kick off Sunday, Nov. 15 with area pastors being asked to preach on Matthew 25:35-40, a passage from the Bible dealing with the topic at hand.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”

According to Santana the response to this request has been very positive.

Monday, Nov. 16 marks the “Blessing of the Hats and Scarves.” Items created by the Warm for Winter program will be distributed to the county’s homeless at the Bremerton United Methodist Church from Noon to 1:30 p.m. The church will serve chili and crackers to the homeless and knitters before the items are distributed. Any remaining items will go to the January one night count.

A workshop entitled “No Place To Lay Their Heads ­— the Homeless Who Live Outside in Kitsap County” will take place from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 17 at the Kitsap Community Resources gym on Park Avenue. The Port Orchard Rotary is paying for lunch which will be catered by Coffee Oasis. The purpose of the workshop is to come up with a plan to address the needs and experiences of the homeless who live outside.

“We want to see representatives from city councils, law enforcement agencies, medical and emergency services personnel, faith community members, schools and other service providers,” Santana said.

November is “Homeless Youth Awareness Month.” Churches and youth groups are being asked to look at the subject during their Wednesday night, Nov. 18 meetings.

Olympic College is getting involved as well with their “Connect” resource and health fair taking place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Bremer Student Center. The fair is being presented by OC’s Students In Need Group which is made up of staff, students and other community members. OC has its own food bank and does have a population of homeless students.

Another “Lunch With The Electeds” event is coming Noon to 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20 at the Salvation Army building on Sixth Street. The area homeless will have a chance to speak to the elected officials charged with making the laws which effect them.

Also on Friday is the “One Night Without A Home” event. The community is being asked to “walk in solidarity with their homeless brothers and sisters by sleeping outside, either in a tent or in a vehicle.” Emmanuel Apostolic Church is leading the way on this event and many from their congregation will be spending Friday night in the church’s parking lot. The church also will be taking canned food donations until 7 p.m.

“We want everyone to do this, but if you are going to do it, do it right,” Santana said. “Only eat homeless food, things like granola bars, raisins and beef jerky. And don’t take any money with you. And if you actually lived in your car, you would probably not have much gas to run the engine for heat. Also be sure to avoid running into the house to use the bathroom. The objective is to make people see the real fears our homeless face daily.”

The week winds down with a Spaghetti Feed on Saturday. The Olive Garden is donating staff, food and enough spaghetti, salad and breadsticks to feed 250 people. The event is slated for noon to 2 p.m. Nov. 21 at the Salvation Army, 832 Sixth Street.

“This is a love offering fundraiser for the Salvation Army,” Santana said.