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Roanoke Rescue Mission helps homelessness through expanded program

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Four months ago, Sylena Cammack felt little hope for her future.

"I was lost and confused," said Cammack, who turned to the Roanoke Rescue Mission for help.

She discovered the Tabitha Program, which offers a variety of classes, giving her a chance to complete her education.

"I'm working on my GED at the rescue mission. They're doing a great job," continued Cammack.

In the latest study, the Blue Ridge Interagency Council counted 267 homeless people in the Roanoke region, a decrease of about 19 percent over last year. The council reports the number of homeless people has decreased for the fifth consecutive year in the Roanoke region.

Tabitha program manager Laura Johnson said more people like Cammack are becoming interested.

Since the program began five years ago, Johnson said it has progressed into other opportunities like educational tutorials, classes, as well as service assignments.

"We encourage, motivate, and empower some of the guests to be able to secure employment housing and social skills," explained Johnson.

"It really has been so successful that even some of the homeless out there have heard about the program, and they come here asking specifically if they can come to the mission just to be in that program," said Roanoke Rescue Mission Chief Development Officer Tracy Altizer.

Cammack is also taking anger management and cooking classes. After she completes her GED, she plans to pursue a certificate to become a nursing assistant.