Manila men working to reach out

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dale Baker and Joe McQueen will be working in the Manila and Leachville area as part of the Mississippi County Homeless Coalition.

Dale Baker (left) president of Mississippi County Coalition for Hope, and Joe McQueen, secretary, are branching out to help the homeless.

The two Manila men serve on the board of the Mississippi County Coalition for Hope established in April of last year. Baker serves as president and McQueen serves as secretary. The Coalition for Hope is a non-profit organization helping children, who are mentally, socially or behaviorally challenged, and their families.

The other two board members are Virginia Done, vice president, and Sharanda Crew, youth adviser.

The Mississippi County Homeless Coalition is an outreach ministry through the Mississippi County Union Mission. Sherry King is director of the Mission and director of the Homeless Coalition.

"I think people in this area would be surprised to discover we do have homeless people," Baker said. "In order to help them, we first have to know they are here and get a count.

Through the program a homeless count will be held in Manila, Blytheville and Osceola from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 25. It will be held at the Manila Community Center and at the public libraries in Blytheville and Osceola.

"All we are asking is for people who have found themselves homeless to come in and complete a survey," McQueen said. "We have to get a count if we are going to be able to get any help to the people."

Necessity bags filled with personal hygiene items and more will be given away to anyone who fills out the survey. Hot dogs and chili will be served at no cost to those attending.

Baker said the survey does not obligate anyone.

"The Homeless Coalition is new to the county," Baker said. "According to a definition from HUD on Homelessness, it can be any individual in a disability condition or family in a disability condition who has been disrupted from their home for a year or experienced four episodes in the past three years or a person sleeping anywhere not meant for human habitation."

"Many people are only one pay check away from being homeless," McQueen said. "The Coalition was formed to help people."

The men are passionate about helping people, especially children. Their concern is what led them to the Mississippi County Coalition of Hope. Their compassion for anyone who does not have a home is leading them to be a part of the Homeless Coalition.

The Homeless Coalition's mission statement is to see solutions to end homelessness with collaboration from state and local community resources through individual case management, and with direction toward client self-sufficiency regardless of national origin, race, color, sex, age, religion, handicap or addiction.

The men have seen a growth in the involvement in the Coalition of Hope. They have family night the third Thursday of each month at MidSouth Health Systems in Blytheville. They have guest speakers, food, and a large support group. They will average 60 in attendance.

For more information on the Coalition of Hope or the Homeless Coalition, call (870) 740-2975 or 351-7996.

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