November is National Runaway Prevention Month

OSWEGO, NY – During the month of November Oswego County Opportunities Crisis and Development Services holds an annual awareness campaign.

The goal of this campaign is to raise community awareness of homelessness in our county and what it looks like.

When residents of Oswego County first hear that homelessness is a problem their response is generally “I didn’t know that there were homeless in Oswego County.”

So often we think of homelessness as the man or woman on the corner holding the sign declaring that they are homeless and in need of help.

While that may be the case in some locations, it is not here in Oswego County.

The face of homelessness in our county is the youth, child, or family that is sleeping on the couch or floor of a friend or family members home.

The person who at anytime could be told that they cannot continue to stay there.

While Oswego County does not have panhandlers on every corner, the problem of homelessness is very much alive and real.

During 2012, OCO Homeless Services provided services to 897 youth who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Many of those youth are part of a larger family unit that is homeless.

Some of them are youth who cannot stay at “home” with their parent or guardian.

These are youth who at times have no idea where they are going to stay tonight or tomorrow night or next week.

OCO worked with each of those 897 youth to strive towards obtaining a safe and permanent residence.

In circumstances where family reunification was safe and possible, it was pursued and family reunification in many of those cases was achieved.

During the month of November, OCO Crisis and Development Services will be conducting the following outreach activities:

November 1 from 3 – 7 p.m., staff from OCO Crisis and Development Services will be conducting an outreach event at the Wal-Mart Supercenter, Route 49 in Central Square. During that time staff will be present to answer questions and talk about the services available to homeless youth and their families. They will also be accepting donations of non-perishable food goods and school supplies.

On November 11 from 5 to 9 p.m., OCO Crisis and Development Services will be conducting an awareness campaign and fundraiser at Cam’s Pizza, 31 W. Bridge St., Oswego. A portion of purchases will be donated to help meet the needs of the homeless.

“In order for a portion of your purchase to go to OCO, you will need to bring with you one of the informational cards that were printed for this event. Informational cards can be received by contacting OCO’s Midtown Office at 315-342-7532. While you’re at it, get some for your friends and family and remember to bring your card when you go to Cam’s!” said Brian Coleman, Homeless Services Program manager.

November 14 from 3 – 9 p.m., staff from OCO Crisis and Development Services will be conducting a couch surfing event at Washington Square Park in Oswego. Staff will also be attending the meeting of the County Legislature at 7 p.m. in order to raise awareness of homelessness in Oswego County.

“Green is the color of National Runaway Prevention Month with the green light bulb being the symbol. Come out in support and wear your green,” added Coleman.

OCO is committed to meeting the needs of the homeless throughout Oswego County.

Those in need can call OCO’s Homeless Hotline 24 hours a day seven days a week at 315-342-7618 or toll free at 1-877-342-7618.

Oswego County Opportunities receives funding from the following sources in order to assist in meeting the needs of the homeless youth in Oswego County. Funding is received from the Department of Health and Human Services, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, and the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau.