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The Rev. Donna Phelps and her husband Garry have made it their mission to help others.
Last year they and their organization, Building Hope Ministries, played a key role in organizing other churches and organizations in tackling the issue of homelessness in Brunswick County.
As the economy tanked several years ago and has struggled to recovered, many residents—most of whom were taxpaying, hardworking, middle class citizens—found themselves suddenly out of work. Many of them still are.
According to the most recent statistics, almost 11 percent of Brunswick County’s employable workers are without jobs. A number of those have lost their homes. They have become the faces of homelessness here in our community.
There are a variety of homeless people living among us. Some are men and women who have nothing more than the clothes they wear and the few possessions they carry. They set up makeshift places to sleep in abandoned houses and treed areas.
But there are other homeless people here—those who have no place to call home, who shift day-to-day from sleeping in cars or maybe on the couch of a friend or relative. Others still have moved entire families into the living rooms or other open spaces of those kind enough to take them in.
It’s these people the Phelpses and other local ministries are trying to help. They’ve set up shelters for the coldest months of the year. Year-round they collect food and clothes and blankets for those in needs. They work with those down on their luck, trying to get them back on their feet and back working in society.
From January through August this year, their organization, Brunswick County Streetreach, has helped 111 people. Among those, 74 were unemployed and couldn’t find work.
Almost 60 said they were living on the street, in a car or abandoned building or on a boat.
Thirteen people said they were living with friends or family.
Sixteen people were veterans.
Nineteen were kids who had aged out of foster care and said they had no family and no place to go.
Helping the homeless is a big task; one many often turn a blind eye to.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to suddenly lose everything and be left on your own, you have a chance to better understand the experience. One Homeless Night, a sleep-out, gets under way at noon, Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Building Hope Ministries office, 1009 Hewett Road, Supply. (See a story about the sleep-out on page 8A today.)
If you can’t participate, help Streetreach and other local agencies help those who need assistance. To find out how you can help, call 842-2711 or 742-7459.