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On the Edge…At the Center
Stories from the Manchester Homeless Services Center
By Christopher Emerson, Manager
Little Things Mean a Lot
As you know, the Homeless Services Center provides for certain BIG necessities such as warmth during the day, food for the belly, a shower for the body, and a listening ear. And our primary purpose is always to connect the homeless and near-homeless to valuable services. But there is one, small, unexpected item which often emerges as critical for the forward progress of our guests.
At least three times a day, one of our guests will ask for a standard letter-sized envelope. Whether they want to mail a resume, need to settle a problem with Social Security, wish to mail forms to an agency in town, or send documentation, they need an envelope. Most of the time they hand-deliver their paperwork, but sometimes, if an agency is some distance away, and their feet are in bad shape, they need an envelope.
We try to keep envelopes on hand. They have to find their own stamps, but often a simple, white, paper envelope can spell the difference between timely responses and failed attempts.
It’s the least we can do, literally.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides free federal and state e-filing to low and moderate income families in the Greater Manchester area. IRS Certified tax preparers are there to help clients get the largest refund possible.
The refunds are issued in 5-10 days and can be direct deposited. The primary goal of the program is to get money into the hands of a tax payer as quickly as possible.
The program is free and runs on the help the IRS Certified volunteers. The volunteers all commit to 20 hours of an online basic IRS course. Plus 20 more hours of classroom time to learn how to pass 3 IRS competency exams. Volunteers are certified every year to be part of the program. Last, there’s two hours of diversity training on cultural expectations. They commit to a minimum of 40 hours during the 10 weeks of tax season.
The VITA program helps people from all walks of life from folks coming out of homelessness to an AmeriCorps VISTA. It is a free service and everyone qualifies. Clients are not turned away because of language barriers. Last year alone there were 27 languages spoken in the clinic.
Clients need to bring an original social security card for themselves and their spouse and all of their dependents, a photo ID for both themselves and their spouse and all the W-2’s for all their 2011 employment and any other tax documents.
The VITA program is located at 60 Rogers Street, 2nd Floor, Workplace Success, in Manchester, and is open from February 2nd through April 10th. Hours are Tuesdays 5:00 – 8:00 pm; Thursdays 5:00 – 8:00 pm; Saturdays 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. No appointments are required to be seen.
Dave Carroll, Homeless Outreach Specialist at the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester
What is your name and position at the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester?
My name is Dave Carroll. I am the Homeless Outreach Specialist at the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester.
How long have you had that job title and how would you describe it?
I have been at the Mental Health Center for five years and in my current position for three years. My job involves outreach into the community to assist individuals who are homeless and experiencing mental illness, as well as those with co-occurring substance use disorders. My role is to connect those individuals to appropriate services and provide short-term case management when necessary.
Are there any specific Continuum activities you’d like to highlight?(involvement with the Point-In-Time Count, MCoC meetings etc.)
I am a member of the Homeless Liaison Committee and the Discharge Planning/Social Policy Committee. I really enjoy collaborating with the other committee members as we try to problem-solve tough issues. I also find a lot of value in the MCoC general assembly meetings, where I get a chance to meet and network with people from a variety of agencies in Manchester.
What should someone know about your organization?
The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester is a 50-year-old private, non-profit system of comprehensive mental health services that is available to Manchester area citizens in need of care. Last year we served nearly 11,000 children, adults and seniors.
We are also designated as the community mental health program for Region VII (greater Manchester) by the NH Bureau of Behavioral Health. In that capacity we provide a broad range of state-of-the art services to people with a serious and/or persistent mental illness and we provide 24/7 emergency psychiatric response to the community.
We have a staff of more than 300 and operate over 30 programs. We are the largest provider of outpatient behavioral health services in New Hampshire and we are affiliated with Dartmouth Medical School.
What do you love most about your job? What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I like getting to know people and being able to “meet them where they are at.” In my free time (free time?) I enjoy playing guitar or mandolin, gardening, and hiking. I especially enjoy avoiding housework.
Thank you, Dave Carroll, for your continued support and participation in the Manchester Continuum of Care!
Angie’s Shelter for Women is celebrating a 10th Anniversary
In 2002, Angie’s was opened in recognition of the needs of homeless women. Up to 16 women can stay at Angie’s Shelter, a small homelike environment where clients can access the support and services they need while working to rebuild their lives.
Angie’s was named after Sister Angeline Whidden, a Religious Sister of Mercy as she was instrumental in establishing Angie’s for Women. More information about Angie’s can be found at www.newhorizonsfornh.org
We would like to thank everyone involved with Project Homeless Connect January 12th. This community event could not happen without the diligence and persistence of several people in particular who bring the spirit of helping one another to each interaction in our community:
Craig Chevalier, of 1269 Cafe, Patrick Tufts of Granite United Way, St. Joseph’s Cathedral, New Hampshire Housing & Finance Authority & NH Food Bank.
Thanks to the agencies who took valuable time out of their day to talk with the homeless who attend about how they can assist them, and to Governor Lynch, for doing the same. This event hosted 189 homeless people this year, nearly 50 more than it did last year. There are degrees of the state of homelessness, but what we can take away from this year’s event is that we are still miles from our goal of eradicating it. If you have an idea or would like to volunteer for next year’s event, please contact Susan Howland at Granite United Way (603-391-7927).
As the Community Awareness Committee looks ahead, we are excited to bring an interactive video set up to the public by late spring. It will include an opportunity for anyone to be videotaped as they answer a question about how we see the homeless. A montage will be edited for replay at the event and a final cut will be produced for air on Manchester Public Television, channel 16. We will be looking for events where we can set this up, so please contact Loretta Prescott (625-6980) if your agency would like to partner on this innovative project.
Happy Valentine’s Day- spread the love!
Loretta Prescott, Serenity Place Susan Howland, Granite United Way/City of Manchester