Letter: Let's not forget the homeless

January 31, 2012

Dear Editor:

I wanted to express my sincere sympathy to the families and friends of Tameka and George, who died due to exposure and/or carbon monoxide poisoning while sleeping in a tent in Aberdeen. The fact that this could happen in an affluent area such as Harford County may seem mind-boggling; but, in reality, the sad truth is that the homeless population is growing everywhere.

I was very happy to see in Mr. Vought's editorial he addressed these two tragic deaths. And he's right; indeed some homeless people do not want assistance. But I can assure you, based upon my varied interactions with the homeless population in Harford County at many different times and places, most appreciate help and understanding. Sure, addictions and mental health issues play a role and, for this reason, one needs to also look at the underlying causes of homelessness. It takes some time to get to the root cause, which is different with every individual.

Several groups in Harford County are attempting to address the issue of homelessness. One of them is the Welcome One Shelter in Belcamp, which is managed by Faith Communities and Civic Agencies United. FCCAU is an organization that relies mostly on the generosity of churches, local businesses and private citizens in addition to some public funding. Our facility, however, can only house approximately 30 individuals on any given night. With a homeless population of several hundred individuals, more resources are needed.

One might ask what he or she can do to assist FCCAU with its mission of providing shelter to and advocating for the homeless. There are several ways that people can help. First and foremost, the shelter cannot run without its volunteers. The Welcome One Emergency Shelter is blessed to have local churches and civic organizations that cook wonderful dinners and provide lunch every day for our residents. Without their care and concern, the shelter could not exist. Another way that individuals can help is to come to our shelter and simply lend a compassionate ear to our residents. It may only take a smile or a few kind words to make someone's day. Finally, since we are a private charitable organization, donations to our mission are vital. No amount is too small. Please visit our website at http://www.welcomeoneshelter.com or call 410-272-2229 for further information.

In closing, George and Tameka were someone's children, someone's family, someone's friends. Let us not forget them.

Penny Comeau

FCCAU Board Member

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