Woodward, Okla. —
DEBUNKING SOME MYTHS
Prophet said one reason she thinks that donations may be down is because the public may not fully understand what the outreach center does or may misunderstand the purpose of the agency.
"We'd like to debunk some of those myths," she said.
Myth #1: Homelessness doesn't exist in Woodward.
"One thing people don't seem to understand is that homelessness even exists here," Prophet said. "That's because it's not as visible as it would be in a big city. We don't have people on the street corners with signs or people under bridges."
However, just because they're not out on the street doesn't mean that they're aren't people in the area who are struggling without a place to call home.
"In my research I've found that in rural areas many of the homeless live with family. So they don't appear homeless because they're not out on the street, but they don't have a residence of their own," she said.
And staying with family is not a permanent solution.
"In fact that's how many of them end up here, at our center, because their family gets tired of having them," Prophet said.
Myth #2: High Plains Outreach Center is a rescue mission.
"We are not a shelter, we are not a mission agency; we provide transitional housing," Prophet said. "We're here to help those who want to help themselves."
In fact, for those seeking a place to stay at the Outreach Center, she said, "we require they find work if they are not already working."
However, there are those in the community who may not realize this and may think twice about donating to the Outreach Center because "they feel they've worked hard for what they've got, and they didn't get any charity, so why should they give their hard earned money to someone wanting a hand out," Prophet said.
"People have such a bad image of the homeless, they have that inner city image of people who are dirty and panhandling, just beggars," she said. "But the homeless here look like everyday people you see in town. They may be the person waiting on you at a restaurant or maybe the person who carries out your groceries. They're everywhere."
Prophet said the Outreach Center just provides temporary housing and not ongoing assistance. She said clients are allowed to stay for up to 30 days while they seek employment and new housing.
She said the reason the center only provides temporary shelter is because for the most part, "Homelessness is a temporary circumstance, not a permanent condition."
"While we do help some people who are just passing through, that's not the majority. The majority are those willing to work, but just need the time that they're here, those 30 days, to get back up on their feet and to find a more permanent place to stay," she said.