Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Four Oaks Day Service Center Helping More Homeless Deal With The Summer Heat

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NEWPORT NEWS—The extreme temperatures during the summer and winter months can be brutal on the homeless, and the numbers this summer are expected to be higher than usual. Not just the temperature, but also the number of people who are finding themselves displaced because of a lack of affordable housing.

“With the eviction moratorium ending, we’re seeing a rise of evictions,” said Quincy White, executive director of Four Oaks Day Service Center in Newport News. “We’re starting to see a rise in the number of folks that are not traditionally a part of the homeless population becoming homeless. Or, we see folks that are still in their homes that are about to be evicted that need supportive services, that need help, to keep them where they are. Either way, we’re starting to see a flood of people coming. We’re seeing an even bigger flood of folks potentially coming, and we’re trying to come up with new strategies to get ahead of it.”

One of the things Four Oaks is doing right now is providing bottled water and cooler clothing to help the homeless stay hydrated and dissipate extra heat from their bodies.

“There is limited shelter space in Newport News,” said White. “You have the Men’s Mission and Menchville House for families, but outside of that, there’s really no shelter for them. For those who are out on the street, we strive to provide cooler clothing and bottled water throughout the day to keep them hydrated. We have transportation we use to take people back and forth to job interviews, but we also use that as a water truck. We drive around and pass out water to the homeless we see on the streets.”

Four Oaks is also providing mental health services for homeless individuals seeking help. On Mental Health Mondays, it brings in a number of mental health providers to offer free mental health services for its clients. 

“We hired a mental health therapist to be part of our staff,” said White. “With the rise of evictions going on, we really want to help those folks combat any mental health issues they may have associated with becoming homeless for the first time.”

Four Oaks also offers TeleHealth services, and it recently partnered with the Lackey Clinic to provide free healthcare.

“Obviously, we deal with a very vulnerable population,” said White. “Even with our medical center and our TeleHealth Program, building that level of trust and making sure people are connected to medical services is an issue we see with the homeless population. So, the next best thing we can do for them is to make sure people are properly hydrated, understanding what the warning signs of heatstroke look like in case they need immediate attention, and just trying to help them manage on a day-to-day level.”

What can concerned citizens do to help? Four Oaks often holds water drives and can use all the bottled water it can get. The center is also looking for donations of hand-held fans, hats, clothing such as light shorts and t-shirts, umbrellas, and ponchos. The ponchos not only provide a way to create shade, they are helpful during rainstorms, which may become more abundant as we move deeper into hurricane season.

Another thing members of the community can do is to keep an eye out for homeless citizens that may need help, then reach out to Four Oaks to report their location.

“If you see anyone that is homeless, please give us a call at 757-975-5201,” said White. “We have an outreach team that can go out and link with these folks, and hopefully connect them with services.”

Four Oaks Day Service Center is a one-stop service and assistance center where men, women, and families experiencing homelessness receive support and are connected to comprehensive community services under one roof thanks to on-site partners. Four Oaks offers workforce development support, housing assistance, and comprehensive case management services that give people the opportunity to transform their lives. The center is operated by the Newport News Department of Human Services. It is located at 7401 Warwick Blvd. in Newport News.

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