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Homeless coalition honors 3 supporters

Jan. 24, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- The Cabell-Huntington Coalition for the Homeless honored three supporters Thursday morning at its sixth annual Hometown Breakfast fundraiser.

The event, hosted at The Palms on 9th Street Plaza, recognized the contributions of Francie Roberts-Buchanan, Missy Clagg Browning and the Holiday Inn.

The coalition, which operates as Harmony House, strives to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter and health care to Huntington's homeless population. It hoped to raise $30,000 Thursday as it recognized the honorees, according to assistant director Breanne Akers.

"Working with homeless people is often a pretty thankless job," she said. "It's sometimes a tough population to work with, but I think the people who invest themselves in helping homeless people see them as people first."

Roberts-Buchanan received the group's "Heart of the Homeless Award." Akers said it recognized Roberts-Buchanan's efforts as local director of information and referral in developing programs and helping the homeless.

"I am fortunate to live and work in a community, where I have all of these partners to make things happen," Roberts-Buchanan said. "Why me? I don't know because it's not me. It's every single person. We're a community who comes together for every cause."

Harmony House recognized Browning as its "Volunteer of the Year." Akers noted Browning's work in organizing multiple events including a medical outreach for Harmony House residents.

"The homeless people in Huntington are my passion," Browning said. "I am the conduit. I am just the idea and the seed planter.

"I would rather be on that side of the table serving someone. I would rather be on that side of the camera, because I'm the one that coordinates. I'm the quiet, invisible force behind things, and that's where I like to be," she added.

Michael Carlson accepted the group's "Business of the Year Award" on behalf of Holiday Inn. He serves as area director for the hotel's parent company, Uptowner Inns.

Akers noted the Holiday Inn's donation of pillows, bedding, shower curtains and other items, some of which are included in house-warming packets given to clients as they move into a residence of his or her own. The hotel also was commended for providing jobs to some clients.

Carlson, an Iowa native who recently relocated to Huntington from Charlotte, N.C., said the award reinforces the city's kind spirit.

"The business of business is making money," he said. "That's why you're in business, but businesses are staffed by people and most people want to help people. So that's all it is helping people and they make it easy for us."

Thursday's breakfast typically represents the only fundraiser of the year for Harmony House, Akers said. She noted its $30,000 goal would raise a fraction of its estimated $500,000 in operational costs. The remaining balance comes from a combination of state and federal grants, along with private contributions.

In 2013, Harmony House handled 2,319 case management referrals, washed 390 loads of laundry and provided 976 showers to those living on the street, along with transports for 255 to government/medical appointments.

The Harmony House operates a multi-purpose day shelter and four housing facilities, which are known as Vanity Fair, Heistad House, Seaton Taylor Apartments and Nelson Apartments.

Follow Curtis Johnson at Facebook.com/curtisjohnsonHD and via Twitter @curtisjohnsonHD.

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