Awareness and collaboration were key topics shared during the Homelessness Roundtable presented by the City of Hot Springs on June 4, 2019. Presenters shared insights into the growing number of homeless citizens in the city with the hope of bringing service providers together to work towards solutions as a group.
More than 75 people registered for the event, and City Manager Bill Burrough welcomed the group at the Hot Springs Junior Academy Auditorium. Following Burrough were eight presenters from the area:
- Boyce Mitchell, engagement specialist at Ouachita Behavioral Health & Wellness shared his personal experiences, challenges, and successes in working with the homeless in Hot Springs.
- Dr. Sally Carder, retired president of National Park College and representative with St. Luke’s Shower Ministry, rallied the group to consider coordinated services.
- Sarah Fowler, executive director of United Way of the Ouachitas, shared information about and encouraged participation in the Online Resource Guide at www.hsresourceguide.org and CharityTracker, an online community network dedicated to providing assistance for individuals and families in need.
- Sue Legal, planning and compliance director at Ouachita Children, Youth, & Families Services, offered HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) funding opportunities and requirements.
- CBDG Administrator Michelle Sestili and Deputy City Manager Lance Spicer, both with the City of Hot Springs presented best practices and successful programs in other communities that could serve as examples for collaborative efforts in Hot Springs.
- Lynn Blankenship, executive director of Cooperative Christian Ministries and Clinic (CMCC), rounded out the presentations by sharing the success of the Bridges Out of Poverty Getting Ahead program. She also introduced Allison Martinez, who overcame years of homelessness and challenges with the help of CMCC and others in the community to earn a degree from National Park College.
The Homeless Roundtable kicked off the two-day Poverty Summit, aimed at “building a sustainable community that benefits everyone,” hosted by Cooperative Christian Ministries and Clinic.