It took us awhile, but all of our hundreds of records are finally computerized, thanks to a grant from Freeport-McMoran for some computers and Holly Palm, Marty Dempsey and a few other gracious volunteers and community service workers.
This make it so much easier to find our guests charts when they come in to get food and clothing and no need to file their charts when they leave.
We still need to fill in some data gaps, but it gives us the ability to run some interesting database searches with the numbers we do have (on the salesforce.com nonprofit platform).
Here are some of the numbers that I recently ran to help us better serve our population.
-42% Live directly behind us in the Chihuahua Hill area
-21% Live in the Brewer Hill area (above the Post Office)
–24% Live in low-income Housing developments around town (by Jose Barrios, the Bowling Alley, Stout Elementary, by the High School and other small individual units)
–8% come from the area and towns surrounding Silver City
-5% are homeless or transient
-67% Have at least 1 member of the family employed (either full or part-time)
-69% are families with at least one child
-18% are single women
-13% are single men
-19% are senior citizens
-12% are under the age of 21
These numbers aren’t too surprising to me, as I know a little bit about most of the people who do come in, but when I shared them with some of our board members, they were a little surprised as they thought we would have a higher percentage in the homeless population.
By my count, this week we have 9 truly homeless that are either living out of their cars, in the big ditch or in tents around the area.
We do have quite a few more that I didn’t count living in what the Government would classify as homeless, which means sub-standard housing, sometimes without heat or a leaky roof. If they have a roof over their heads, I know they have at least some stability so don’t include them in my personal count.
There are also a few that live in the forest and only come to town every few months, we have those that are in and out of jail (or 3 hots and a cot as they like to call it) and we always have those who are here for a few days or weeks, just passing through.
Yesterday, we had 2 babies who had to use high chairs in the soup kitchen and 5 kids under 10. Sometimes we don’t have any kids and there are times when we don’t have enough high chairs.
And we also know through our sign-in sheets that we will feed around 35-50 at the beginning of each month in the soup kitchen and jump to around 80-100 at the end of the month when food stamps run out and people are waiting for their paychecks.
These numbers do make me pause to re-evaluate some of our goals because I thought the number with jobs would be much lower. It shows me that we are helping a larger percentage of the working-poor as they are called and maybe we should be focusing our teaching efforts more towards budgeting and better shopping habits than on job training, etc.
It makes me think that we are a large part of some of our neighbors safety net. Many of these families are just one or two paychecks away from being homeless themselves.
We only have so much to go around, so it also makes me wonder if we should either place a higher requirement on whom we serve or if we should try and increase our resources because the number of working-poor seem to be getting larger (though I don’t know this for a fact yet).
And since some of our own board thought we had more homeless, it also makes me wonder what the general population of Silver City thinks. The easiest way to actually find out is to come down, take a tour, stay for lunch and see what we do.
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