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Point in Time count, Day of Care identify, assist homeless in need

Sonny Long

By Sonny Long
Jan. 23, 2014 at 3:04 p.m.
Updated Jan. 22, 2014 at 7:23 p.m.

Justin Thompson rests on his assigned bed at the Salvation Army. Thompson participated in the Salvation Army's Stepping Stone program when he was 35 but didn't complete the program because of a job offer that took him to Columbus.

Justin Thompson has battled demons all his life - drugs, alcohol, mental illness.

Now in his second stint at the Salvation Army men's shelter, Thompson knows he's been given another chance to get his life together.

"I'm hoping I can get my head straight and find a good job and find the right kind of people to be around," said Thompson, 36, who previously stayed at the shelter "four or five months ago for about three months."

"My problem is I can start over anew but fall in with the exact same people doing the same things; I fall right back into it," he said.

"I want to be able to identify those people and stay away from them before I get attached to them."

And identifying people is what Thursday's Victoria Area Homeless Coalition Point in Time count was about, too.

Volunteers conducted surveys at Labor Ready, Victoria Christian Assistance Ministry, the Victoria Public Library, Christ's Kitchen, The Salvation Army and the First United Methodist Church during the Day of Care activities.

"We surveyed about a dozen at Labor Ready early this morning," Ginny Stafford of Mid-Coast Family Services said Thursday.

"But because of the threat of bad weather, a lot of the ones we know to be living on the streets weren't there.

"We're going to have to go looking for them."

The surveys are used, in part, as the official count for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to determine the needs of a community.

At the First United Methodist Church, the Day of Care offered a wide range of services, including food, clothing, showers, haircuts and various health screenings.

Two of the volunteers who were offering manicures complete with a choice of nail polish were Hallettsville Sacred Heart Catholic School students Mallorie Layton and Kelsey Bohuslav, both 14.

"The girls came over as a service project for school," said Priscilla Layton, Mallorie's mother, who was also volunteering as a University of Houston-Victoria nursing alumna.

"I also wanted to see what services were available for clientele I will be serving," Layton said.

At the Salvation Army, Thompson was thankful for the services provided there, including those for alcohol and drug addictions.

He said cocaine was his drug of choice.

"It's grabbed me quite a few times. It hurts," Thompson said.

"There's also Bible study here," he said. "I'd lost a lot of faith in God; trying to bring Him back into my life."

Thompson would also like someday to get his 13-year-old son back in his life.

"I haven't seen him in 10 years. I have no idea where he is. One day, I came home from work, and they were gone.

"I think about him every day."



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