September 2016 Outreach Commission Meeting Minutes

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Outreach Commission Meeting Minutes
September 28, 2016

Bill Weil opened with opening prayer.

The meeting began with an update by Rachel Meyer regarding the Weekend Backpack (Food for Thought) program with the Walton County School District. The District has given us the dates of October 20th and November 3rd from 4-6 p.m. The backpack preparations take place at the Food For Thought building on Market Street. Rachel also updated the group on the status of the Freeport High School laundry facilities project. Rachel said that the school was very supportive of this idea and currently there are about 20 students that would be ideal candidates for this ministry. Rachel is meeting with the principal to start working out more specifics as to what exactly is needed and required by volunteers.

Dianne McManus from the Homeless and Housing alliance (HHA) made a presentation to the group regarding the current status of homelessness in Walton County, and what the immediate and longer term needs are. The discussion centered around the extent of the “hidden homeless” that exist which are not included in the official homeless census data due people’s fear of having children taken from them if they admitted they were homeless. Dianne relayed numerous stories of children moving from house to house and school to school trying to keep from living in cars or on the street. Dianne also commented that even though many of these people may have low paying jobs, there is no housing in South Walton that they can afford, and there are no transitional housing programs that can assist these people. The closest transitional housing facility is in Ft. Walton Beach. Two items resulted from this discussion

  1. Danny Margagliani and Catherine Dickson agreed to investigate the feasibility of acquiring land or property that could be used to house some transitional housing cottages. These cottages would be used by area agencies to provide temporary housing until a permanent solution is achieved. Everyone is well aware that this is not an easy or fast moving endeavor that needs to be carefully vetted, but is worth investing time to determine if this could become a reality.
  2. The Outreach Commission approved providing $1,000 to HHA to assist with their current funding shortfall to help them with emergency assistance to their current clients. Dianne McManus provided a subsequent written request for a total of $3,000 that she felt would fill the gap completely until regular funding starts coming in at the end of the year. The Commission agreed to increase the amount from $1,000 to $3,000.

Next the group discussed several ideas for potential outreach that have been provided to the Outreach Commission thus far. A couple of items that had not been previously identified and/or discussed were:

  1. Activitism to push for getting sidewalks for CR393 as there are several lower income people living in the area that have to ride their bike on the road, or have to walk very close to the road which is very dangerous. Mimi Gavigan reported that she believes that sidewalks are currently on the Walton County Visioning agenda, and will investigate what could be done to get this project moved higher on the priority list.
  2. Community chaplain – Walton county has an abundance of temporary seasonal workers that do not have any support system. An idea (with a donor for financial support) has come forward regarding providing spiritual and counseling needs for this group of people. The donor wants a Church to serve as the overview organization, and we’ll invite Emily Proctor to the next meeting to describe how this might work. Likely outcome is a working group to detail the idea and determine any role we might play.
  3. Capes and Crowns – Christ the King has agreed to be a sponsor and provide volunteers for a water table for the run on November 5th. CtK will also provide brochures to include in the race packets and an information booth at the end of the race.

The next Outreach Meeting is Wednesday, October 26 – 5:30pm in Sandefur Hall.

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