LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -Volunteers from Lawton and Fort-Sill joined together today for the annual, "I Count" homeless survey. Seven groups traveled to various locations throughout Southwest Oklahoma to determine how many homeless veterans and homeless people in general are in the area.
Once they were identified, they were invited to come to St. John's Baptist Church, where they were given lunch. They were also provided with information on how to get food, clothes vouchers, and medical treatment.
Over the past four years the campaign has reduced the homeless rate in Lawton by 70 percent. Although, the program is aimed towards homeless veterans and people. There were several others at the luncheon who says during tough times they are thankful for a free meal, and helpful resources for themselves and their family.
Jervis Jackson is the director of the Southwest Continuum Care. The I Count campaign helps assist homeless veterans but it also enables them to help other people.
" We don't count numbers, at the end of the day we were able to help someone, and for that person it is an even greater day”, said Jackson.
Vouchers are given to veterans and their families, they also assist other homeless families in the city.
"We've been able to get additional transitional housing resources through the Lawton housing authority. We have a section 8 program, public housing, but the goal is to not house those who are homeless but to assist them even more beyond housing”, said Jackson.
Camille Lena works for a local wireless company, which provides free cellphones for people who are currently receiving government benefits. For those who qualify, the monthly charge is only a dollar-69. She says she is lucky to be a part of helping someone in their life, through difficult times.
" There ecstatic because they don't have the money to buy a phone. They don't have the money to be able to get a start and there is no trying to help them in that area. It's a blessing to them to be able them, whether it be get a hold of their doctor or get a hold of their family members who is out of state”, said Lena.
Providing help for people gives them a since of hope and teaches them that they are not alone. They are able to set goals and provide for themselves and their family.
"The amazing thing is that once they get to the end goal. The many of them will turn around and give back. They will be the volunteers for next year”, said Jackson.
A dinner was served at the Salvation Army in Lawton. They will do a final count on homeless veterans and people, and have an estimated number in a few days. About 175 veterans were counted for last year in Lawton.