Last week, rangers at Scioto Audubon and Greenways worked as a Street Outreach Team in cooperation with the Community Shelter Board and other partnering agencies. The Street Outreach Team, helped conduct a yearly “point in time” count of homeless individuals in the City of Columbus. While our rangers often conduct outreach with homeless individuals during patrol, this point in time count provides an important baseline of homelessness within the city, allowing the ability to track trends from year to year. These counts are also done across the nation in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, helping to gauge the problem on the national level. While none of the camps or individuals were in Metro Parks’ jurisdiction, rangers assisted the city by making contact with individuals within the Scioto Trail corridor.
During the count, rangers contacted homeless individuals in the early morning hours. They made sure that everyone was ok, and not in need of immediate medical attention. They offered information on services available through various government and non-government organizations working in the community. Rangers were also able to give out care packages provided by the Community Shelter Board. These care packages contained personal hygiene items (tooth brushes, deodorant etc), coupons for meals, bus passes, and information on resources available such as shelters and temporary housing.
This is just one of the many aspects of a park ranger’s job, and one of the many ways rangers partner with other agencies in the community to try and effect positive change.