Bill Cobun has worked with Capital Crossroads and Discovery SIDs for almost three years. He began as Clean Team Ambassador and then spent time as a Discovery Security Officer. But now he serve CCSID and the community as the Outreach Specialist.
Cobun’s background is varied, having worked as a musician, a computer programmer, a computer repair technician in the Army National Guard, and a grocery store manager. But when the grocery store he was managing went out of business, he decided to change his path. He went back to school and earned a Masters in Cultural Studies in Education.
After earning this degree, he saw a job notice for cleaning ambassador. The job market was tight and he saw it as a great opportunity to be out on the street, engaged with public. When the former Outreach Specialist moved on, CCSID encouraged Cobun to apply for the position due to his educational background as well as his broad experience on the streets of downtown. Cobun was trained by the SID in self defense, police mountain biking and as a Certified Tourism Ambassador.
Cobun is officially an employee of Maryhaven, with whom the SID contracts for outreach services. However, Cobun works out of the SID offices and spends his days patrolling the streets of downtown with the safety ambassadors. He makes contact with those in need and then uses Maryhaven’s resources to help them get into housing. In just his first month on the job, Cobun was able to make progress with roughly 11 individuals in need.
“I know both SIDs like the back of my hand, and I am establishing ongoing relationships with many of the long-term homeless. This winter has been very hard of them, and many are now ready to get into long-term housing," Cobun said.
The goal of the outreach position is to help as many people as possible make that transition to long-term housing. Maryhaven has a network in place, allowing Cobun to get people evaluated and into the system. Cobun makes contact with those in need out on the street or through an outreach program run through the Columbus Metropolitan Library.
“Maryhaven has a system in place,” explained Cobun. “Debbie Randle has been there for about 18 years, so there is a lot of experience. They have housed over 400 people in the last five years.”
When Cobun engages with an individual, he works to break down as many barriers to housing that he can. Some have criminal backgrounds which make finding work difficult; Cobun tries to find them places to work. Some have a mental or physical disability; Cobun puts them in touch with appropriate health services. Some have lost their documentation; Cobun helps them through the process of replacing a birth certificate or driver’s license. All of these issues can be hurdles to getting help from the Shelter Board, so Cobun is there to help smooth the process.
“There are many organizations out there offering services,” added Cobun. “We all work together to create a web, to make a net that catches as many people as possible.”
CCSID is very pleased to have Cobun on board.