Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Fri, January 27 2012 at 3:54 PM, Updated: Fri, January 27 2012 at 4:18 PM
The number of homeless people in Klamath Falls is on the rise. But an event held Thursday is helping those homeless to get back on track.
William Taber is a homeless father of three children. Taber notes that just a few basic necessities can give them hope...
"Get us blankets and food, and a free hot meal right now. We're going from place to place right now, and hopefully on the first, we'll have our own place."
Rob Petchell of Klamath and Lake Community Action Services says a variety of items are given away: "We have a lot of winter clothes that we give away, some food baskets, along with jackets, boots, blankets, and sleeping bags."
Donna Bowman of KLCAS explains that the event also helps to identify just how many people need help.
"Today we're doing a winter 'Give-A-Way', and what we do every year the last week of January, we do a count of homeless people."
281 people showed up for Thursday's 'Give-A-Way'. That compares to 150 last year.
Timothy Hetrick was one of the volunteers helping out. "We're here with Hosanna Christian Key Club, and we came to help today, to help out with the cartoning thing."
Organizers say they're seeing more and more homeless families. There were 67 children at Thursday's 'Give-A-Way'.
Three of those children were William Taber's kids... "I just thank God there's places like this that help." Taber said.
The homeless count will be used to help calculate future funding for local agencies. As the 'Give-A-Way' was taking place, a head count was also being taken at local missions and shelters.
A related event called 'Project Homeless Connect' is held in Klamath Falls every August.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.
Lyle's job history is quite colorful. He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.
Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience. "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".
When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.