We all have a part to play in helping the homeless survive and move forward in Ocean County, NJ
It's a new year filled with all kinds of possibilities for all of us, new goals, new expectations, new ways to help others.
There is a great and continued need for helping the homeless in Ocean County as we set foot in a new year as well.
January is typically the coldest month of the year and we all high tail it indoors to keep warm and try and avoid getting sick.
For many of the homeless in our Ocean County communities, that's not always an option, outside of maybe finding a Code Blue shelter somewhere.
It's truly heartbreaking to see and hear about how so many of our brothers and sisters in the community have fallen on hard times and in some cases, have nowhere to live, nowhere to sleep, nothing to eat, nothing to use to keep warm.
There are many good Samaritans, individuals and groups who regularly are out there doing all they can to help the homeless, and help can come in many different forms -- volunteering at a shelter, offering to help them, just standing/sitting somewhere and having a 5-minute conversation with someone who is homeless, donating to a non-profit who works with the homeless, among other forms of providing assistance.
One of the groups doing outstanding work for the homeless in Ocean County is Just Believe Inc.
The President of Just Believe Inc., Paul Hulse, joined us on 'Shore Time with Vin and Dave' on Sunday morning to discuss the state of homelessness in Ocean County.
From Code Blue to the daily needs, there are a lot of challenges facing the homeless today in Ocean County starting with getting a shelter.
"The programs that are available, we can plug them into Re-Entry (Corporation) and plug them into different programs, but the barriers are always hard when you don't have a permanent shelter in the community," Hulse said. "(With) Code Blue, if the weather doesn't hit 35 degrees or below, they lose our center. Now, there's another center that's open year-round on that time frame from November 1 to March 31, but it's only one center and it holds up to 20 people. We can hold 30 and then there's another center that can hold another 20, so, what happens to those 50 individuals that need a place to stay? That's kind of what we're running into now."
Those are the numbers that we know about, there's many homeless in Toms River and across Ocean County in need of shelter year-round but during the winter months especially.
"When we get them in, we try and spend as much time as we can trying to get them plugged into a service," Hulse said. "It's like, okay, we have five months to make something happen for so many individuals that are really wanting to get out, and then you have the ones that kind of hang out and don't know what they want to do, their life's a mess and they're still stuck in that mess, but you still try to love people where they're at. We don't shun people away; we still try to help them."
There is no face of homelessness, it could be any one from any number of backgrounds and life situations, and some of what they need in such difficult times is love and for people to care about them, help them while they're down, and make them feel like any other human and not outcasted just because they happen to be homeless.
"I think, people generally care and have a concern for people when they see a homeless person," Hulse said.
There is a stereotype that lives in society about homeless people and sometimes, some people stay away from them out of some sort of built-up fear.
"Most homeless people are approachable and are afraid of you before you're afraid of them because they're in a vulnerable state, they're homeless, they're going through something," Hulse said. "I don't anticipate people going and saying 'hey, let's go have lunch and come work at my house', but, in general conversation in a public setting, you can say 'hey, how are you doing?', just like with anybody else, or 'hey, my name is so and so' -- you get to know somebody on a level and treat them with dignity. I think we lose that sometimes because there's a smell or they don't look clean, or they have a lot of scruffy hair because they're homeless, they don't have a place to shower -- they're still people, they just don't have a home."
You can listen to the full conversation that we had with Paul Hulse of Just Believe Inc. on 'Shore Time with Vin and Dave', right here.
Conversation Part One:
Conversation Part Two: