A Full Recap of 2023 Navigation Days
The New Year is fully underway as we approach the halfway point of February. However, as the dust settles of 2023, we’re looking back at our first full calendar year of Navigation Day events. Since its inception in June 2022, this collaboration has seen tremendous growth, and we’re happy to see the upward trajectory!
Starting off our look at the past year, on January 26th 2023, we held our first Navigation Day and Point-in-Time Count together on the same day. The Point-in-Time (PIT) is a nationwide initiative to take a census of our homeless neighbors by getting them surveyed in a 24-hour period. Both PIT Count and Navigation Day require a lot of work, volunteers, and multiple meals. We were very impressed by the outpouring of support from our community, and both events were a huge success. Until 2024, that Navigation Day held the record for the most homeless households seen in a single day with 82 households attending.
By May, our leadership staff began to realize that we needed a new place for our event to call home. We had quickly outgrown the Cactus Hotel Speakeasy, St. Paul Presbyterian Church, and the CVT Bus Annex. Tina Glass has been a key player in our homeless outreach efforts and offered up First Presbyterian Church as a solution. August 1st was our first Navigation Day at First Presbyterian Church, and the immediate feedback was very positive! The spacing didn’t feel as crowded, it was conveniently located downtown, and the environment was very warm and welcoming.
Through 2023, we were happy to be able to increase the number of community partners and services offered. Some of our newest services include bus passes, bibles, or warming items from the Through God Comes Justice Ministry, pet food and supplies from Feeding Pets of the Homeless, HIV testing with Shannon HIV clinic, apply for a phone through the Affordable Connectivity Act with a Catholic Outreach Volunteer, and hygiene kits from Somebody’s Rusty.
We are so pleased to say that we’ve gotten to move beyond just being a drop-in event but rather a place for neighbors to relax and simply exist safely. At the end of 2023, we had the opportunity to turn our December Navigation Day into a holiday-themed event, where we handed out more than 60 Christmas presents to our vulnerable neighbors. Holiday cheer was in full swing with a full Christmas tree, a hot cocoa station, a letter-writing station where people could send postcards to their loved ones at no cost, and even Santa Claus made an appearance. This event was a gift to our community members who don’t always get the luxury of celebrating the holidays in a warm, safe environment.
We are so grateful to the numerous volunteers, agencies, and partners who have helped grow this event into a fantastic model of what seamless cooperation and passion can do! We hope that you will join us for our next Homeless Navigation Day the last Tuesday of the month from 9am-4pm at First Presbyterian Church.
2023 Navigation Day Totals
PaulAnn Baptist Church makes a massive donation to CVCAA’s hygiene closet
At CVCAA, we have always believed in the power of collective action and the importance of supporting one another, especially during challenging times. Today, we want to highlight the incredible kindness demonstrated by the members of PaulAnn Baptist Church, who have gone above and beyond to support our mission of providing essential resources to those in need.
In our ongoing efforts to address the critical needs of individuals and families in our community, one of our primary initiatives has been our hygiene closet with Superior Healthplan. This resource plays a vital role in ensuring that everyone has access to basic hygiene products, which are often overlooked necessities for maintaining health and dignity.
CVCAA’s Hygiene Closet began in early 2022 when we were awarded a grant through Superior Healthplan, and we have been incredibly fortunate to have been renewed numerous times. In our years of operating the hygiene closet, which is open to anyone who needs it, sustaining our hygiene closet requires continuous support from generous donors and community partners. This is where the compassionate members of PaulAnn Baptist Church stepped in to make a significant difference.
Over a few weeks, PaulAnn Baptist Church organized a donation drive to collect hygiene products for our community. Their dedication and enthusiasm were truly inspiring as they rallied together to support a cause that resonates deeply with our mission.
We were absolutely humbled when members of PaulAnn Baptist Church presented us with a donation totaling over $1,700 worth of essential hygiene items. From toothpaste and shampoo to laundry soap and feminine hygiene products, their generosity has filled our shelves and touched the lives of countless individuals and families in need.
To the members of PaulAnn Baptist Church, we extend our deepest gratitude for your generosity and support. Your donation will not only provide essential resources to those in need but also serve as a source of hope and encouragement for our entire community.
If you need any hygiene items, our Superior Healthplan Hygiene Closet is open 8am-5pm on the third Thursday of the month. Every household gets to pick five large, full-sized items such as shampoo, conditioner, adult incontinence briefs, laundry soap, and more. This program does not require documentation or proof of income. If you have any questions, please reach out at 325-653-2411.
The Concho Valley has always supported our active-duty military and veterans. CVCAA has been proud to serve these heroes with our programs, but in 2023 we extended that service to a program just for our active duty and veteran service members.
The Concho Valley is rich in culture and tradition, but one could argue the brightest gem in our crown is Goodfellows Air Force Base. While the military personnel who come to GAFB rarely get to stay for more than a few years, many of those veterans come back to San Angelo with their families when it comes time to retire.
According to the most recent data, almost 10,000 veterans live in the Concho Valley. That’s over 9% of the total population, well above the state average of 6.7%. While not all of them will need help, CVCAA is committed to serving those that do.
Our Veteran Services Program is possible thanks to a generous grant from the Texas Veteran’s Commission. This grant, designed by veterans for veterans, allows us to provide financial relief to veterans and surviving spouses. With our Veteran Services Program we are able to help veterans catch up on bills like rent or mortgage, car payments and utilities when times get tough. We are also able to help with unexpected expenses such as restorative dental work and even funeral expenses, so veterans can be buried with dignity without leaving a financial burden on their widows.
CVCAA is proud to serve our veterans. We are actively working to expand our Veteran Services Program to better meet the needs of those who chose to protect us with service to our country.
To learn more about our Veteran Services Program, visit https://www.cvcaa.org/veterans-assistance or call our office at 325.653.2411.
You can help us serve even more veterans right here in the Concho Valley with your tax-deductible donation at https://www.cvcaa.org/donate-to-cvcaa.
Have you ever struggled deciding on the best gift to get someone for a birthday or Christmas? You can guess what they might like or snoop around their social media to dig up ideas. But the best way to know what to get them is to ask what they would like.
Turns out, the same rules apply to serving our homeless neighbors.
If you work in any part of homeless services, you’re bound to eventually hear the phrase “Nothing For Us Without Us”. The premise is simple, we can’t effectively serve our unhoused neighbors if we aren’t including them in the discussions about how to best serve them. Instead of guessing what to get them, we ask!
Several of our staff members regularly engage with our unhoused neighbors. We meet with them individually, see them at events, or even stop to chat if we run into them around town. But we know that serving this group needs to be about more than just trying to understand them from an outsider perspective. And that’s why we recently formed our Lived Experience Advisory Board (LEAB).
Each month, our staff meets with a group of neighbors who are either actively homeless or have been homeless in the past. Thanks to a generous grant from King Foundation, we are able to have fellowship over lunch, building the bonds as we get to know each other as individuals. But when the meal is done, we get down to business.
The LEAB is there to hold us accountable and ensure that our public actions and words about homelessness reflect the realities of their lived experience. This group is the first to hear when we are planning to launch a campaign or speak at city council meetings. But the LEAB is so much more than an accountability partner. By formalizing our relationship, we are able to provide platforms for our homeless neighbors to speak for themselves.
This was seen at our Homeless Symposium held this past November. Members of the LEAB shared their personal experiences and participated in a Q&A session where they shared the sometimes-harsh realities of homelessness in our community.
Through our Lived Experience Advisory Board we’ve learned that being an advocate for someone doesn’t always mean speaking up for them. Sometimes it means handing them the microphone. We can’t wait to see what this dedicated group of neighbors will do next!
Over the course of the past year and a half, CVCAA has been a vocal proponent of engaging the community about the plight of our homeless neighbors. You may know (or may not) that there are over 200 individuals experiencing homelessness in our part of Texas. These are people living in the elements, in their car, under bridges. On top of that, the school district estimates another 150-200 students who are homeless…couch surfing, living in overcrowded conditions. That’s a lot of people in harm’s way. And that’s just the start of the counting. All across the Concho Valley we have neighbors who are one bill away from becoming homeless, having their power cut off, going without basic necessities.
I had a conversation with some of our local government leaders recently and several questions came up about what we as a community owe our at-risk neighbors. Should we, as a society, continue to offer support to people who need it? Do we expect our government to do something to assist these people? Do our homeless neighbors deserve the continued outreach and support from the city, local businesses, non-profit agencies, and churches?
One might think that “well they don’t pay taxes so what do we owe them?” It is true that resources are stretched thin in our local government and in our non-profits. But these are people we are talking about. If you are a religious person, these are people made in the image of God. There are a lot of passages about “whatever you do for the least of these you also do for me.” If you look at the Declaration of Independence, the bedrock of the United States, you’ll find We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. All are created equal.
Not just the ones who have good jobs. All.
This means the folks living in tent city. It means the people under the bridge. It means the person who looks scary to you, or smells funky, or needs assistance paying the bills to stay in their home.
For everyone born,