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July 13, 2014

One Vision One Voice prepares for ‘I Count’

NORMAN — Passing a neighbor on the street, one usually smiles, gives a nod of acknowledgment or reaches out to shake a hand. But what about the neighbor who lives on that street and is tired, scared and without a home? One Vision One Voice is working to encourage the Norman community to look homelessness in the eye and reach out its hand to help.

One Vision One Voice is a collaboration of Norman homeless service providers including Bridges, Food and Shelter, Norman Housing Authority, Salvation Army, Sanctuary Women’s Development Center, Thunderbird Clubhouse, United Way of

Norman, Variety Care and Women’s Resource Center. The group is working together to address practical, compassionate and cost saving solutions for the community problem of homelessness.

Recently, the national 100,000 Homes Campaign surpassed its goal of housing 100,000 chronic homeless individuals within four years. The programs that One Vision One Voice are administering in Norman that successfully house chronic homeless individuals were included in the campaign’s totals. Lisa Schmidt, director of development and strategic partnerships of Variety Care, said as a new organization One Vision One Voice jumped on the tail end of the 100,000 Homes Campaign, but was proud to have 34 individuals included in the total.

Schmidt said that part of One Vision One Voice’s mission is to bring awareness to the community about homelessness and dispel stereotypes. The group stands on the beliefs that homelessness is unacceptable; there are no “homeless people,” but rather people who have lost their homes who deserve to be treated with dignity; that homelessness is expensive; that it is solvable and can be prevented.

“We’re really just embarking on our challenge to prevent homelessness in Norman. This is an ongoing initiative. We want to help people understand that the homeless could be any of us or our sisters or brothers and that it’s a community issue,” she said.

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