After reviewing the Thurston County Point In Time Homeless Census (PIT) report for 2018, it was evident to the staff at Senior Services that they were seeing far more homeless seniors than the report reflected. “Every day we meet a new homeless senior,” says Jolene Black, Deputy Director of Senior Services for South Sound. “It’s a sign of our times.” Here are three ways they are helping those in need.

Point In Time Homeless Census Event

Panorama Help Homeless Seniors Serving Coffee at Senior Center
These seniors are being served at the Senior Services Olympia Coffee bar. On January 24, homeless seniors will receive a complimentary coffee if they come to the PIT event. Photo courtesy: Senior Services for South Sound

To encourage more homeless seniors to come and be counted this year, the Olympia Senior Center at 222 Columbia St NW will be open to those 55 and older from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. as one of the PIT event locations on January 24. “We specifically wanted to be a site for the PIT to try to get a more accurate count of seniors who are experiencing homelessness in our community,” states Molly Noble, Senior Services for South Sound’s Senior Care & Support Director. Those who come will be provided with a coffee coupon, and can attend lunch at noon. “We want them to feel welcomed, safe and part of our senior community at Senior Services,” she adds.

“If people know of homeless seniors, let them know about the PIT event,” Jolene says. “They can also place this article or a notice in their places of work or worship to help spread the word.” If all the seniors without stable housing are counted, then the organizations within our community will be able to potentially receive more funding to offer the support these seniors need.

Panorama Help Homeless Senior Services Free Lunch
Senior Services for South Sound offers lunch to Seniors every day. Thanks to Panorma’s generous donation, the meal will be free to anyone 55 or older if they come to the PIT event at the Olympia Center on January 24. Photo courtesy: Senior Services for South Sound

Panorama is partnering with Senior Services during this event. “They are providing funding to cover free coffee and pastries on January 24 and will be helping to cover lunch for those who don’t qualify for the Senior Nutrition Program,” says Jolene. “Panorama has also reached out to their own community to ask for donations of coats and socks to be available at the PIT count for those in need.”

“Panorama is excited about the opportunity to partner with Senior Services for South Sound in their efforts to achieve a more accurate count of seniors experiencing homelessness in our community,” says Meghan Vu, director of philanthropy at Panorama. “We understand a safe and stable home for everyone in our community, including older adults, is fundamental to the health of our whole community and that work cannot be achieved without an accurate picture of the current need. Panorama is honored that Senior Services for South Sound approached us with the opportunity to support their efforts as a part of the community-wide Point in Time count on January 24.”

Warm Clothing Drive

Panorama Help Homeless warm clothing drive
Warm coats, hats, gloves, scarves and especially new socks are being collected for Homeless Seniors at the Olympia and Lacey Senior Centers. Photo courtesy: Senior Services for South Sound

Coats, gloves, hats, scarves and new socks are available for any senior in need at the Senior Center. They are holding a clothing drive to collect more of these items before the PIT. “It’s so important for seniors to have dry socks,” says Jolene. Such a simple item can provide a lot of comfort for someone who is out in the elements and does not have a way to dry their clothes. Having dry socks can make a big difference in a person’s comfort and health. Donations of warm clothing especially in medium and large sizes are needed. They can be dropped off at the Olympia Senior Center, or the Lacey Senior Center. “The Senior Centers are always collecting new socks,” assures Jolene.

Homeshare Program

Senior Services of South Sound runs a unique program that could help combat senior homelessness. The Homeshare Program matches seniors who have an extra room in their house with someone in need of low rent housing. The renter pays around $400 a month and agrees to perform a few household chores or provide transportation a few times a week. The homeowner gets help, company, and a little extra income. This can be a win-win for everyone.

Panorama Help Homeless Seniors Molly Noble Supportive Services
Molly Noble (pictured) provides supportive services to seniors. Homeless seniors are encouraged to come to the Senior Center to learn more about what they have to offer. Photo courtesy: Senior Services for South Sound

There is a detailed application for both renter and provider, including personality and lifestyle information. “The process can take a couple of months as it is important to have a good match,” stresses Jolene. A successful match can offer a multitude of benefits. Any adult can apply to be a renter in the Homeshare Program, but some of their most successful matches have been seniors renting to seniors.

This is a program that can tick a lot of boxes in our current housing market. “It adds to the current rental stock, and ensures a senior can stay in their home,” Jolene explains. Another bonus is companionship. “Isolation is one of the biggest issues facing seniors,” she adds.

If you would like to volunteer on January 24 to help welcome people to the Senior Center, or provide coats and socks for seniors, please contact Molly Noble at 360-586-6181, ext. 120.

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