By Whitney Venegoni, APRN, FNP-C, Family Nurse Practitioner at Health Partnership Clinic/Mobile Integrated Healthcare Team
November 13-21, 2021 marks National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week. The goal of this week is to bring attention to hunger and homelessness, focus on ways to make a difference in your community and work to increase participation and engagement. The timing of Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week is important as many of us are focusing on what we are thankful for and what we can do to help others. Here in Olathe and surrounding areas, we are also approaching the colder weather and harsher conditions for those without stable housing.
When we think of homelessness, we often think of people living on the streets.
Many might not realize that we have homeless families right here in our neighborhoods. Some of our homeless do live on the streets, in the woods and other areas in our town facing the elements every day. Others might have a roof over their heads tonight, but they might be sleeping on the floor doubled up with other families, they might not know where they will be sleeping tomorrow, and they might not know where their next meal is coming from. Our local schools have children and families that face food insecurities and unstable housing. When you don’t know where you will sleep tonight or where your next meal will come from, things like school, work and health care all become so much more difficult.
As part of the Mobile Integrated Healthcare Team, we have the opportunity to support patients in any way possible. We are able to meet people where they are, whether that’s outside, at the home of someone they are doubled up with, or one of our community partner sites. Many times, things like transportation, housing and food are barriers, and when food and shelter are not stable, things like routine labs, medications and follow up appointments are not a priority. Ensuring our basic needs are met and stable going forward allows us to focus on our overall health and avoid illness and injury. Our services are provided to Olathe residents at no cost.
To schedule an appointment with the Mobile Integrated Healthcare Team, call 913-334-8228.
In addition to my work with the Integrated Healthcare Team, I see patients at Health Partnership Clinic in Olathe. We are the designated medical home in Johnson County for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. This means our health services—medical, dental and behavioral health—are available free of charge to those who qualify. This service also extends to unsheltered people in Franklin and Miami Counties.
To schedule an appointment to establish a medical home, call 913-648-2266.
Community Resources Abound
There are so many excellent partners in our community working everyday to feed those who are hungry and to house those who are experiencing homelessness. We have several community partners that work hard to help adults, children and families at risk. There are resources out there to help prevent homelessness and hunger as well and to get families help before they are without a home and experiencing food insecurity.
If you are struggling with hunger, there are several partners in our area that can help. To find a food pantry near you, visit https://www.foodpantries.org/st/kansas. There are several mobile food drops in our area, as well as food pantries that can be visited every month. One family could access food pantry services six times per month.
For those experiencing homelessness or those at risk of homelessness, there is help in our community!
There is also a Hotline for the Homeless: 816-474-4599
The Hotline for the Homeless is a free referral telephone service. Men, women and families who call the Hotline are directed to actual shelter housing when available space is known.
There are so many wonderful ways to get involved!