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Miriam's House: The Fight to Solve Homelessness and Coldest Night of the Year Fundraiser

Written by    on February 23, 2022    in
written by Alyssa Wilson, University of Lynchburg Bonner Intern 

Imagine not having a safe place to sleep when it is 20 degrees and snowy outside. Where do you go? How do you keep your family safe? This is something that Miriam’s House helps to tackle throughout the year, but especially in the winter months. 

Miriam’s House is a nonprofit organization and partner of SHARE Greater Lynchburg that helps to offer the homeless safe, affordable housing. They help to house 400 people a year and have a 96% success rate in moving families into housing. 

Each year, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) captures local, state and national data on homelessness. This is called the Point in Time (PIT) count and was created in the early 2000s. 

Lynchburg receives funding from HUD to assist in homelessness response programs like Miriam’s House. Due to the funds that Miriam’s House receives from HUD, they are required to comply with hosting the Point in Time count. 

Volunteers from around the community gather together and are assigned to different neighborhoods in the City of Lynchburg. On the morning of January 27, 2022 at 6 a.m., several volunteers bundled up to walk through their assigned neighborhoods to be available to point the homeless towards available resources.

Miriam’s House Director, Sarah Quarantotto said, “Miriam’s House has a street outreach program, Homeless Outreach and Mobile Engagement (HOME), that partners with Community Access Network (CAN) to deliver services to unsheltered persons year round. This program is able to identify spots where unsheltered persons tend to sleep which then informs the locations for the unsheltered portion of the Point in Time Count.” 

Some years, groups find many people in need of a safe place to go and other years, like this one, volunteers are relieved to not find many people sleeping in the bitter cold. 

Volunteer from the University of Lynchburg and Bonner Leader, Naomi Watkins said, “I volunteer and do service with Miriam’s House… I have always been passionate about service and helping others. My ‘why’ for being here is that I care about people not having a place to stay, not having the equal opportunity to have a roof over their head or clothes on their back.” 

In addition to the gathering of metrics and data to send to HUD, one of the greatest missions of the PIT count is to be able to connect those lacking resources to other nonprofit organizations in the community. People may be pointed towards Miriam’s House, The Salvation Army and other multitudes of organizations that are eager to help. 

One way that others can help to support Miriam’s House is to take part in their fundraising events. For example, Miriam’s House is hosting ‘Coldest Night of the Year’on Saturday, February 26 starting at Miriam’s House at 4 p.m. This event will be a walk to raise money for Miriam’s House to continue their mission to solve homelessness in the area. 

Quarantotto said, “The community is invited to get involved by signing up to walk, and by donating to support others who are walking or volunteering.” 

Registration is open until the day of the event, but registering must be done online and not at the event itself. This is Miriam’s House First Annual Coldest Night of the Year with hopes to have many more in future years. 

You can learn more about this fundraising event and ways you can get involved by visiting Miriam’s House SHARE Greater Lynchburg profile