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Community tackling homeless problem

By Teresa Crowder
Freelance Writer

Passion is the fuel that drives an individual or individuals to do amazing things. A desire fueled by passion will bring about the greatest results in life. Without action, passion yields no real worthwhile results. There is a movement of passion in our county to help those in need and those who are homeless.
This passion is contagious, and it is a hope that many in the community become infected by it to the degree of moving forth with action.
Local nonprofit organization, Helping Others is fired up with passion and is hard at work on making a difference daily.
Theresa Essick McElyea and her team of volunteers sort through donated clothes, household items, hygiene supplies, and various other items that come in daily for folks to look through and take if they need them. She has also reached out to local churches to have an organized schedule for feeding those in need on Saturdays.
One of Mcelyea’s volunteers even constructed a site online where volunteers can sign up to come and assist McEylea. Local community members have also donated daily to Helping Others to provide simple sandwiches or goods to pass out to hungry people who come by. Helping Others is also actively seeking adult mentors to work with homeless individuals to get identification credentials to apply for employment, sign up for resources, and provide helpful advice, love, and compassion.
On the other side of town, one of the local salons in Mountain City, Blown Away, has a group of gals passionate about helping the homeless.
“My heart and passion as always been to help others,” said Shawna Buckner, a nail tech at Blown Away Salon. “Having a business in the area of town, we have always had homeless people come by the shop. Leaving work every night, seeing them congregating behind the shop trying to do what they could to get through the cold night left my heart so heavy.”
The shop eagerly involves clients interested in talking about the homeless problem in the county, and many clients have donated monetarily or brought items to assist in this endeavor.
They heighten awareness and collect donations and various items during the day and have a schedule to check on those individuals they are presently assisting after work each day.
“So far, we have seen positive things coming from just doing what we are doing,” Buchner said. “It’s definitely a hard thing to watch the conditions they are in and hear their stories of how they got there. I just know that they may have made many mistakes, seen lots of tragedy, and had no guidance to get to a better place. That’s why I want everyone to have a chance, feel love, and encourage them. So maybe even if we can help or change one person’s circumstances, that’s a huge blessing.”
Currently, there is an organized effort to assist and combine efforts of these organizations and other individuals in creating a coalition or nonprofit to elevate the efforts and continue this passionate movement.
With this being an election year, it will be interesting to see what passion looks like in the action of our county officials and the rest of our community.