You won’t see Iola’s homeless residents sleeping in cardboard boxes on the sidewalks downtown. You might catch a glimpse of someone standing on a street corner with a sign asking for donations or a ride, but it’s likely law enforcement will soon arrive and take them to an agency that can help.
Even though not everyone sees them, the local community does have a small population of homeless and a group of dedicated public servants and volunteers who try to help them find emergency shelter.
Tracy Keagle, founder of Iola’s Humanity House, sees the homeless often. They come to Humanity House in hopes of finding someone who can connect them with a place to stay, a little bit of food or supplies or other needs. After a bitter cold snap on Jan. 17, three sought help from Humanity House. Two were sleeping in vehicles. Another, who identified herself only as Tiffany, was walking toward Iola Jan. 14 when a law enforcement officer stopped and gave her a ride to Humanity House. Staff worked to find her a safe place to stay and later took her to Hope Unlimited, a local domestic violence shelter, because her circumstances might have qualified for their services.