UPDATE: AmeriCorps Vista Volunteer Researches Local Homelessness Problem

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UPDATE 7/8/2014 11:55 AM

Helping those in our community that are homeless.

Some may be between homes or living with different family members.

It's a tough question to answer.

In Washington County there are services available, but the key question is what, if anything, needs to change to make a bigger difference.

Through RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) in Marietta, AmeriCorps Vista volunteer Caitlyn Harville has been working on this project for a year now.

Her time there is up and she is moving on; however, she spent the year doing much needed research on an important topic for this community: the homeless - which can include lots of different situations, not just those living on the streets.

Caitlyn looked into how many homeless and people in poverty there are in the Marietta, Washington County area and what resources the community has and what is being done to help them.

She found there is a real need, and through this project she's bringing this topic to the surface.

"You don't know what people's situations are and what they are going through. You don't know that someone is homeless or that they may not know where their next meal is coming from. How much people are really struggling just by looking at them, you can't really judge a book by its cover. It's not until you start talking to people and you see the situations they are in," she says.

She put a book together, a basic needs research guide.

Lots of numbers of places that can help, such as food pantries.

Anyone can come pick one up at the O'Neill Center and it will be available online.

Moving forward, the idea of a day center is in the works.

Somewhere these people can come and do laundry, check in and the county can get a real head count of how many people are in need.

Speaking with Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews, he is on board to help move in a positive direction.

When the next AmeriCorps Vista representative comes to work in just the next two weeks, she will be here for a year as well, moving the project forward.

A national service project in Washington County that many not know about is helping those without homes.

AmeriCorps Vista, partnering with RSVP volunteers, is in the process of researching homeless people in the area, adding in low income families as well and what programs are available.

Local Vista member Caitlin Harville presented her work so far.

Also, April 1 is Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service.

Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews read a proclamation.

This is a three year project so the group is hoping another Vista member will take over in June.

Just last year RSVP did 26,000 hours of community service, saving a half a million dollars for our community.

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