Originally created 02/11/99

Organizers are in need of volunteers



Augusta agencies planning a big event for the homeless are still looking for volunteers for the one-day event and still searching for those who can provide services later, such as dental work and eyeglasses.

Organizers for the Homeless Stand Down, scheduled for March 27, met Wednesday to talk about plans and urge other people and agencies to get involved. About 500 homeless are expected, perhaps half of them families, said Capt. Barbara Howell of the Salvation Army, co-chairwoman of the event.

It's the hope of organizers that the event will draw out what is called the "hidden homeless," those who stay with relatives or friends but have no place of their own and are constantly at risk of being put on the street, said Lynda Suarez of CSRA Economic Opportunity Authority.

While the event itself lasts from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., organizers said it could reach beyond that.

In addition to providing breakfast and lunch, showers, haircuts, and a bag of basic items like a toothbrush, the event will offer a number of medical screenings, such as hearing and dental. The problem becomes referrals for treatment later. St. Vincent dePaul Health Center will handle some referrals, but others who can provide free dental care or eyeglasses are needed, said Kathleen Barnhart, a nurse practitioner at the Augusta Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, who is helping to organize the medical services for the event.

The event is also lacking certain specialties, such as podiatry, but a major podiatry conference in Augusta that weekend may be a source for help, Ms. Barnhart said.

The Junior League of Augusta is sponsoring a children's tent, with games and face painting for the children while their parents talk with agencies about different services, said Alice Padgett of the Junior League. The group is still searching for someone to donate instant film so that the children can leave with a picture for their parents.

"The mother and father will have a picture of the child at that age," Mrs. Padgett said.

The biggest need is still just volunteers, Capt. Howell said.

"We need people who will be willing to come and do anything," she said.

Tom Corwin covers science and medicine for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (706) 823-3213 or tomc@augustachronicle.com.

How to help out

The Homeless Stand Down will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 27 on the Riverwalk at the Eighth Street Plaza. Organizers are still seeking volunteers of all kinds and agencies that would like to help. For more information or to volunteer, call the Augusta Task Force for the Homeless at (706) 774-1059.