Last night, IMPACT Justice Ministry Team Members came together at Westminster Presbyterian Church to narrow down the problems to be brought to a vote at the October 24th Annual Assembly. It was an exciting meeting-an opportunity for people to share their congregations’ concerns with the whole of the organization.
The 3 problem areas to be voted upon at the Annual Assembly are: Lack of Vocational Opportunities, Mental Health, and Homelessness.
Responses that came directly from house meetings, congregational meetings, and one-to-ones are listed below.
· “how do we meet the housing needs of people of no-income as well as low-income?
· Lack of homeless facility or night shelter, especially for families
· Safety of the homeless, especially women and children
· Need for better access to services, job training and life skills
-“Alcoholism/drug abuse is a huge factor for homelessness. Definitely more than 25% of homeless are alcoholics. In my relationships with men on the street, I find that these addictions are both the cause and effect for a lot of chronic homelessness. The existing treatment center at the Mohr Center is outstanding. But it’s hopelessly underfunded and too short (2 weeks) of a program. Further, the only option after those 2 weeks of “drying out” is a program in Richmond (ARC) which is dismal to say the least. There needs to be better addiction treatment in our city AND WE NEED IT NOW.”
· Lack of affordable mental health services
· “Mental illness-people need somebody to live with them or at least visit them very regularly”
· “There’s no accessible mental health services for Spanish-speakers” … “no bilingual practitioner in area”
· “There are no psychiatrists to refer Region 10 outpatients to. All mental health services are overloaded.”
· “I have a niece with mental health issues and I see a need to integrate her and others into the community. She especially needs housing and employment”
· “I have a family medical practice and am seeing more severe psychiatric patients (bipolar, etc), especially as Region 10 funding declines. I don’t feel properly equipped to treat them.”
· Mental Health services for young adults
· “The homeless with mental illness end up on the psych ward at the hospital and when are discharged have nowhere to go. Their meds run out, they can’t make their follow-up appointments. We release them to fail.”
· Transitional housing for those coming from Western State
· “Concern for the mentally ill-particularly those with subtle illnesses such as depression. There is no place to go to get affordable medications if you’re poor and have little or no health insurance. There’s care if you have greater
Lack of Vocational Opportunities
· Lack of opportunities for those who do not go to college
· Skills and job re-training for the unemployed, especially in computers
· General support for vocational training
· Vocational training needs to be more affordable, especially for refugees
-Need for non-English vocational training opportunities
-“I have 3 part-time jobs and I still can’t get by”
-“It’s been hard for me to find work”
Remember: The Annual Assembly-where we will vote for one of these 3 problem areas-will take place on Monday, October 24th at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church on the UVA Campus. Sign-in begins at 6pm and call to order is 6:30pm. We expect 450 people to be in attendance. Come represent your congregation and make your voice heard!