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Baylor Social Work Receives Texas Homeless Network Award

Sept. 4, 2008

Baylor School of Social Work received the 2008 Texas Homeless Network Outstanding Community Service Award at the network's annual conference Sept. 4 in Austin, Texas.

The award recognizes an individual or group that has helped advance policies or innovative solutions to homelessness or worked with communities to make a difference in fighting homelessness, according to Ken Martin, the network's executive director.

Accepting the award for the School were Gaynor Yancey, associate dean of baccalaureate studies, and Dennis Myers, associate dean of graduate studies at the School, now in its third year as an independent academic unit of Baylor University.

The School was recognized for its prisoner re-entry efforts and its participation in the annual Project Homeless Connect event. The School also provides social work students for internships and field placements in many area agencies that serve persons who are homeless or in transition.

The School began a collaboration with the McLennan County Jail in 2007 in which social work students counsel with prisoners and their families during incarceration and upon release.

More than 70 students, faculty and staff participated in the 2007 Project Homeless Connect, an event sponsored by the City of Waco's Housing and Community Development (HCD) office. Volunteers go throughout the city to survey persons who are homeless to ascertain basic information that can be used to provide more beneficial services to this population.

"I stood and watched with pure amazement at the professionalism and compassion Baylor's students reflected in this critical homeless event," said Jeff Wall, director of the HCD in Waco, of the school's 2007 participation. "The homeless individuals were truly blessed by our dear Baylor students."

Myers said the blessing is reciprocal. "The opportunity to participate in the Project Homeless Connect event offers our students with rich opportunities to relate with homeless persons. As a result, they grow in their understanding of this population and have a chance to celebrate their call to serve persons on the margin. We are thankful for homeless advocates who welcome our students to walk along side them," he said.

According to its Web site, Texas Homeless Network is a statewide non-profit membership organization funded through the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs and the Texas Mental Health/Mental Retardation Department. The mission of Texas Homeless Network is to strengthen communities and partnerships to prevent and eliminate homelessness.