PARSONS, KS.--- Pat McReynolds is going to have a busy and cold night of traveling.
"Primarily parks, some open areas, all night truck stops," states Pat McReynolds, Volunteer.
He's just one of about a dozen volunteers that will be working throughout Southeast Kansas, to get an accurate count of the number of homeless in the area.
"We'll go to those areas where the homeless normally seek shelter, and we'll be seeking to survey and interview homeless individuals there," says McRenolds.
A 2011 Point-In-Time study showed there were 82 homeless in Southeast Kansas, and about 25% of those were children. As if to underscore that idea, Safe Haven Outreach mission founder and director Melissa Brown says they've served about 200 people at the Parsons facility in the past 3 years.
"We are a home for the homeless. We help the people in our community and the surrounding area who have no where to stay," states Melissa Brown, Haven Outreach Mission Founder and Director.
Safe Haven Outreach can house 8 people per night, but sometimes that's not enough.
"If I have 6 other residents, I don't have room for mom and dad and the other kids that might be there," says Brown.
Brown says having accurate numbers won't make the problem go away, but it will help increase community awareness.
"It is a reality. A lot of people have that stigma that it's not in our area, it's not in my backyard, but it is," says Brown.
Making the time McReynolds spends traveling the area for the survey worth while.
"It's a problem that exists, that we sometimes choose to ignore," says McReynolds.
Volunteers will begin counting this evening, and finish the survey January 30th. The data will be reported to state and federal government agencies, and will be used for deciding future grants and funding.