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,
April 15th may seem far away, but the deadline for 2023 taxes will be here before you know it. Having a professional file your taxes can cost you hundreds of dollars and a ton of headaches. But CVCAA has a better solution. Our team of trained, professional volunteers can file your taxes in less than 30 minutes, and they’ll do it all for free!
CVCAA is proud to be a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site again in 2024. We have four highly qualified professionals that volunteer hundreds of hours each year to help low-income families get the most out of their tax refund without spending a dime.
Our volunteers will file your return electronically so that you get your return as fast as possible. We do not take any percentage or fee so 100% of your return goes directly to you.
Appointments will begin on January 18th, and you can call our office now to schedule yours.
Please visit https://www.cvcaa.org/free-tax-assistance to see program requirements and to find out what you’ll need at your appointment. You can also download any required documents to save time at your appointment.
Call our office at (325)653-2411 to schedule your appointment today!
There is a special bond between a pet and their person. For most of us a pet provides snuggles, a welcome home, and loving companionship. For our homeless neighbors, a pet can also be protection while you sleep, warmth on a cold night, and a small measure of consistency in an unstable situation.
But caring for a pet while homeless can create an extra burden that forces some of our neighbors to choose between themselves and their dog when it comes time to eat.
That’s why CVCAA is so excited to be the first location in West Texas for Feeding the Pets of the Homeless. As a FPH participant, we are set up to take donations of food, leashes, toys, and other pet care items that will make taking care of a furry friend easier for our homeless neighbors.
These items will be distributed during the monthly Homeless Navigation Day. Additionally, we will be distributing through The Oasis Day Shelter at St. Paul Presbyterian Church. We have a great start on our supply thanks to Love ‘n Leashes. This supportive organization held a donation drive for our Pet Supply Closet and showed up in a big way to make sure that no pet goes hungry!
If you would like to contribute, we are accepting donations at our CVCAA office during our open office times. Monetary donations can also be made online HERE. Just select Feeding Pets of the Homeless as your preferred fund. Every donation received will go directly to caring for the pets of our most at-risk neighbors.
If you have any questions or prefer to schedule a donation time, please contact Chrysanthemum Crenshaw at [email protected].
At CVCAA we are constantly looking for ways to improve so we can better serve our community. One of the areas we are always looking to do better at is making it as easy as possible for neighbors to apply for our services.
This year, we have modified our application process to help control the flow of applications and make sure that no one is stuck waiting for answers. As part of that change, we are now only accepting applications during the first full week of each month. This will give our staff a chance to process the applications and give each of them the time they deserve.
The only exception to this is for our veteran clients. We will be taking applications for our veteran services at any time.
You can find more information about the time frames and when we are accepting applications on our website at www.cvcaa.org/forms.
Please note that funds for utility assistance are very limited this year. If you need utility assistance for 2024 we strongly encourage you to apply early in the year.
We have all heard of the Census. Every 10 years, surveys are sent to mailboxes across the country and census workers knock on doors. All of this so that we know how many people live in our country and who they are. But what about our neighbors that don’t have a mailbox or door?
For our homeless neighbors, every January the Concho Valley participates in the Point in Time (PIT) Count. For one day, we will visit known campsites, soup kitchens, and windy underpasses to survey our homeless neighbors.
This information is used in the same way we currently use the census. Not only does it help us understand who our homeless neighbors are, it also helps us to help them. The information collected is used for grants and determines some levels of government funding for programs like housing assistance.
Last year, our team identified 198 homeless neighbors in San Angelo alone, but we know the numbers are much higher.
This year, we are asking you to help us be part of the team to make sure that every neighbor is counted. We are looking for volunteers to participate in this year’s PIT Count on January 25th. There will be shifts throughout the day so there are plenty of ways to help.
If you have any questions, please reach out to one of the event leaders:
Sidney Timmer: [email protected]
Jason Priddy: [email protected]
Your support shows our unhoused neighbors that everyone counts!
Click HERE to see the data from 2023.
It’s a new year! We made it through 2023! Onwards and upwards! Seize the day! Should old acquaintances…yeah you know the song. As we close the book on 2023 and open 2024 there are a lot of things to ponder and new things to wonder. Maybe this past year was a banner year, and you were able to reach new heights and successes. Or possibly 2023 had a lot of grief and sorrow in it for you. One thing I do know is that with each new year comes 12 new months, 52 new weeks, 365 new days, and 525600 new minutes…or in the case of 2024 - 266 new days and 527040 new minutes thanks to the leap year.
How ever you look at this, we all have a chance to embrace the new, the unknown. Many people use this time of year to make new year resolutions. They try to change things about them or their situation and that is great.
Here at CVCAA, 2024 is bringing some new changes and challenges as well. With Congress going back and forth on the federal budget, it affects what we can do here in the Concho Valley. One big change for us is that we are now only taking applications at specific times of each month. By the time you read this, we’ll be either well into our January application window (January 8-12) or past it. February 5-9 and March 4-8 are our next windows. If you are a veteran though we will take your application at any time. We know that this will be a big change, and a big challenge for some of the people we serve. We’ve also fine-tuned our application process to make it more expedient and easier for those in need.
One thing that hasn’t changed though is our commitment to assisting those in need in our communities. We hold dear the Promise of Community Action and work daily to enact it in our agency:
THE PROMISE OF COMMUNITY ACTION - Community Action changes people’s lives, embodies the spirit of hope, improves communities, and makes America a better place to live. We care about the entire community, and we are dedicated to helping people help themselves and each other.
New for 2024, I’m very excited to share with you the promise in Spanish!! Kudos to our team for the translation:
PROMESA DE ACCIÓN COMUNITARIA - Comunidad Acción cambia la vida de las personas, incorpora el espíritu de esperanza, mejora las comunidades y hace los Estados Unidos un lugar mejor para vivir. Cuidamos de nuestra comunidad y nos dedicamos a ayudar las personas para que aprendan a ayudarse ellos mismos, y a los demás.
We try hard to make this promise a reality in all we do. I hope you find it as inspiring as I do. “We care about the entire community” is powerful.
Because of the budgeting situation in Congress our funds have been limited. We have fewer dollars to help an increasing number of people in need. If you are inspired by the Promise of Community Action, then I humbly ask for your financial support to CVCAA. If you head over to https://www.cvcaa.org/donate-to-cvcaa you can make a gift and become a Change Maker and help our communities. Working together we CAN make the Concho Valley a better place to live for ALL our neighbors.
For everyone born,