Eau Claire area organizations gather for homeless count to secure resources, raise awareness

By: Joe Nelson Email
By: Joe Nelson Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wisc. (WEAU) Dozens gathered in downtown Eau Claire Wednesday as part of the bi-annual Point-in-time Homeless Count.

Several area organizations came to find out how many homeless people live in the community, to secure more resources. Organizers said it's a time for the homeless to enjoy themselves, and for the public to gain awareness.

Daniel Cannon went from fighting for his country to fighting to find food and shelter. The Iraq War Army veteran is now homeless, struggling to find work and affordable housing.

"I was in some explosions, mortar rounds, jumping off vehicles," Cannon said. "Vets coming back from war, lose their house or job, and they're trying their best to meet ends."

Cannon has been staying in the Sojourner house, an over night homeless shelter in Eau Claire, where they provide food, shelter, and showers, and he isn't alone.

"We only have 40 beds, and have had to turn some people away," Sojourner lead staff member Kristina Malec said.

According to the Office of Veterans Affairs, Cannon is one of about 67,000 homeless vets in the country. Sojourner house staff said there are many groups out there to help, but not enough funding or volunteers.

Eau Claire area organizations are trying to fight that, by counting how many homeless are in the area, to secure government funding for necessary resources. Malec said it's also a time to enjoy each other's company with a picnic and free haircuts, but she and Cannon also hope to raise awareness.

"Homeless are not crack addicts, druggies or alcoholics, some are actually here to better themselves, try to find work and try to find a place to stay," Cannon said.

"A lot can get out of homelessness, they just need help," Malec said.

For information on how to donate or volunteer contact the Sojourner House at 715-832-6644.

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