Ridgeites, community board urge locals to volunteer for 2017 Hope Count

Attempting to help the homeless.

Liam McCabe, founder of the Willie McCabe Memorial Run, held a press conference on Tuesday, January 10 alongside Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann and Nanci Roden, a board member of the Willie McCabe Memorial, to encourage more Bay Ridge residents to volunteer for the annual Hope Count.

“The Hope Count takes place every year and it’s an opportunity for volunteers to go out and get a count of the homeless throughout the city,” said McCabe, who holds the Willie McCabe Memorial Run each year in memory of his father, who was once homeless. “Obviously the homeless population has really exploded in the past.”

He added that the initiative is looking to receive up to 5,000 volunteers and because the neighborhood’s turnout is low, McCabe and company attempted to raise awareness for the event and issue.

“I know that the P.S. 102 site doesn’t get as many volunteers as others in the city. They’re interested in increasing the turnout,” he said of the school, located at 211 72nd Street. “[During the conference], we called on people from Bay Ridge and were joined by fellow community members and organizations that care about the area.

“The goal was to get it out to them to be aware and participate,” he added. “It’s a very active community, but unfortunately it hasn’t seen the highest number of participation [when it comes to the Hope Count].”

Thus far, McCabe is encouraged by the response to the conference. “The press conference has seen some [response],” he said. “Organizations like Viking Love and Jane DaCosta of Charities for Charities reached out to us and they are bringing the Marine Corps League. We believe that we will see an increase this year.”

As for helping out, McCabe explained that it gives locals a chance to make a significant difference. “It gives people something to actually physically do about homelessness,” he said. “Everyone is upset about it on every level. They feel bad about the homeless. Others feel it’s a quality of life issue. Everyone is correct. The homeless don’t want to be homeless. They don’t know how to fix the issue, but participating in the Hope Count gives people something to do about it.”

He also mentioned his own experience volunteering, which he has been doing for 10 years. “When I did it, I saw homeless in Bay Ridge,” he added. “They were [out in] very cold temperatures. In one case, we helped one man. I don’t know what happened to him after that, but for that moment, I believe we saved that man’s life.”

According to Beckmann, CB 10 will be hosting a committee meeting on Wednesday, January 11 at 7 p.m. to discuss the issue of homelessness in the neighborhood.

The 2017 Hope Count will take place on Monday, January 23, starting at 10 p.m.  To  sign up, click here.

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