– From the 2016 Happy Faces: Count and Connect Campaign.
“Together with your support we were able to organize and facilitate a successful census and connect with our neighbors in need.
It’s hard to use the term ‘success’ when discussing anything related to homelessness and the individuals and families who face it every day, but we’re hard pressed to find a better word to describe the tremendous efforts on the part of so many, the fundraising goals we reached, and the overall feel of the Census event. Most importantly, it was a “successful step” toward change–eventual systemic change, yes, but change also in the hearts and minds of community members. I cannot tell you how many conversations we had with those who came away profoundly impacted. As one of our photographers put it, ‘this was an eye-opening and life-changing experience.’ And we call THAT an important success.
We’d like to share some highlights from the census:
-The campaign reached its goal of $10,000 in both in-kind and cash contributions, thanks to generous donations from individuals and businesses in the community (see the complete list of sponsor businesses at www.icountthurston.org) We’d call this a BIG SUCCESS!
-Approximately 140 people volunteered their time, both in pre-census and day-of work. That is a significant volunteer presence by any standard, and we would simply not be able to carry out this event without their hard work and open hearts. THANK YOU!
-Those volunteers collected hundreds of census forms, with a superb signature rate. Signatures allow us to officially consider the data from those forms and report it to funding and regulatory agencies.
-We stuffed and gave out over 500 goody bags! Recipient response was tremendous!
-For the first-ever Door Prize Giveaway, the I Count Thurston team was able to give out approximately 40 “warming kits”/duffle bags/blankets, and $200 worth of grocery store gift cards and food baskets to homeless families with children.
-Volunteer hair stylists donated over 70 haircuts to those in-need at the Warming Center, at First Christian Church downtown.
-We gave out over 260 Old School pizza slice coupons, numerous boxes of new and gently used clothing from the staff at the Department of Health, and hundreds of cups of fresh-brewed, high-quality coffee with half-and-half at the Census Jam thanks to the hard work of our unofficial “Coffee Team” of donors and volunteers. The coffee station offered a good place for connection and interaction, and people LOVED the pizza and clothing.
All of the collected Census data will be sent to the State Department of Commerce by February 22nd. Over the next several months, ACR Business Consulting (the lead agency in I Count Thurston) will continue to work on the County’s 10 year strategic plan for improving the County’s homeless and affordable housing systems. Stay connected through I Count Thurston’s Facebook page! And look for a public draft of this plan later this year.
We also hope you will consider being a part of next year’s Census, and we will reach out as the months draw near. If you have any questions, please contact Aaron Rodriguez at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out some of our favorite Census photos (Photo Credit: Poppi Photography and Cortney Kelley Photography).