STEPS fundraiser set for homeless services

Published 3:47 pm Friday, February 8, 2019

STEPS Inc. is scheduled to hold a luncheon to raise funds for the organization’s homeless services Wednesday from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the Farmville Train Station at 510 W. Third St. in the Town of Farmville. The event will include a silent auction where participants can bid for specialty items.

Benchmark Community Bank and Centra Southside Community Hospital will sponsor the event. Fuqua Catering will provide the meal. 

Items for bid include donations from various organizations. Longwood University, Hampden-Sydney College, Fuqua Schools and Prince Edward County Public Schools have provided swag bags for the auction.

STEPS served more than 150 individuals since July 2018 in its programs to prevent homelessness, representatives of the organization cited. Of those 150, STEPS estimates that 50 percent were children.

STEPS operates a job training and manufacturing plant in the Town of Victoria and serves Lunenburg, Prince Edward, Cumberland, Buckingham, Amelia, Appomattox, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Halifax, Mecklenburg and Nottoway.

The nonprofit provides three types of homeless solution services, which include programs related to homelessness prevention, rapid rehousing in the event that people become homeless and need immediate assistance, and shelter.

Amy Beatson, vice president of program services for STEPS, said STEPS received funding to support its homeless solutions services at the beginning of the fiscal year in July 2018. In just a few short months, Beatson said they had nearly exhausted all of their funding due to the volume of need in the region.

Lack of affordable housing was among the top three concerns cited by those surveyed in the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) in the Farmville region, spanning Prince Edward, Cumberland and Buckingham. The assessment was done in conjunction with numerous area organizations, including representatives of STEPS and Centra Health.

Following the closure of Town Motel at 1708 W. Third St. in October, between 25-30 residents were estimated to have been displaced.

STEPS, in conjunction with numerous county organizations such as Farmville Area Habitat for Humanity, received a grant from the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) that would help Prince Edward County and the Town of Farmville organize a strategic plan to address affordable housing needs in the county.

VHDA awarded STEPS and the Affordable Housing Coalition $20,000 to develop the plan.

The Affordable Housing Coalition includes stakeholders representing the Town of Farmville, Prince Edward County, Longwood University, Hampden-Sydney College, Prince Edward County Public Schools, Fuqua School, Centra Southside Community Hospital, Farmville Area Habitat for Humanity and STEPS.

A recent news release from STEPS cited that homelessness, while thought of as an issue that solely occurs in cities, is widespread in rural communities as well.

“Many people think of homelessness as an urban program,” Beatson said in the release. “But it persists all around us — even in the most rural of communities.”