Help serve the homeless: Project Homeless Connect

By Neil Parekh | May 15, 2013
Courtesy of: Neil Parekh / United Way of Snohomish County Last year more than a 1,000 homeless individuals and their families attended Project Homeless Connect. About 1,150 meals were served, more than 670 bags and backpacks containing toiletries were distributed by the YWCA and an additional 290 backpacks containing substance-abuse prevention materials were provided to youth by Snohomish County’s Human Services Alcohol and Other Drugs Division. About 130 people received foot care, 127 pets received basic care, 102 people received dental services and 144 households were provided housing information. Project Homeless Connect is a collaboration between Snohomish County’s Human Services Department the city of Everett, The Homeless Policy Task Force, United Way of Snohomish County, Community Health Center, Snohomish Health District, Medical Teams International, DSHS and dozens of housing and social services providers. Above, Kathryn receives a shot.

More than 1,200 homeless people of all ages are expected at this year’s Project Homeless Connect event Thursday, June 27.

The event is set for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Cascade High School auditorium/cafeteria, 801 E. Casino Rd. in Everett.

The annual event assembles upwards of 70 agencies and resource groups to assist homeless individuals with free direct services including Department of Social and Health Services and veterans’ benefits counseling, medical and dental appointments, pet care, mental health support, haircuts, a hot meal, and housing information.

For the first time, free shoes – more than 1,000 of them – are being offered this year.

Project Homeless Connect builds on a national model to deliver immediate services and to improve long-term access to services. Organizers are preparing backpacks filled with small toiletries to give away, but have fallen short of the number needed.

“We need donations of about 500 more backpacks and totes,” said Mary Anne Dillon, senior regional director for the YWCA. “We also need the hotel-size soaps and toothpaste and other hygiene articles to put in the packs.”

Donations can be dropped off by 4 p.m. Friday, June 21, at two locations:

YWCA Pathways for Women, 6027 – 208th St., S.W., Lynnwood

Everett YWCA Regional Center, 3301 Broadway, Everett

Monetary donations by check should be made out to The Everett Gospel Mission c/o Project Homeless Connect, P.O. Box 423, Everett, WA, 98206-0423.

“This event connects homeless individuals with self-sufficiency, stability, and human dignity,” said Sylvia Anderson, CEO of the Everett Gospel Mission. “We need help from the community to do that with donations and volunteer work.”

The 2013 countywide Point in Time count of homeless individuals in Snohomish County showed 1,996 people in 1,151 households without a permanent place to stay.

Of the individuals counted this year, an estimated 757 (38 percent) were homeless children under the age of 18; 99 were homeless veterans; and 427 (21 percent) said they were victims of domestic violence, up from 363 last year.

Begun in Everett in 2009, Project Homeless Connect is a collaboration among the Snohomish County Human Services Department, United Way of Snohomish County the Snohomish Health District, the City of Everett, multiple nonprofits, volunteers and the Homeless Policy Task Force.

For information about the event, volunteer your services, or donate backpacks, contact Svea Stromme at svea.stromme@uwsc.org or 425-374-5543.

You can also find more information about Project Homeless Connect on Facebook (www.facebook.com/phcsnoco), Twitter (@phcsnoco) and on the web at www.uwsc.org/phcsnoco.php.

Through a collaborative effort between Snohomish County, City of Everett and numerous service organizations, Snohomish County has hosted a Project Homeless event annually since 2008.

Over the years, the event has continued to grow and serve the homeless and those at risk of being homeless in our county.

Since the event's inception, the space has increased in capacity, the number of services offered has greatly expanded and the number of clients coming to the event has grown.

For the last three years, the event has been held at Cascade High School on Casino Road and the City of Everett transit system has given free rides to attendees. At that site, Project Homeless Connect served more than 1,000 clients each year.

This event brings together hundreds of service providers and community volunteers, all of whom donate their time and services to provide the clients with access to necessary services and resources.

Everyone who attends that day is given a hot meal to eat, is served by the volunteers and is free to access any services they might need. Over the years, some of the most popular services have been dental care, vision checks, pet services, backpack and toiletry give aways, haircuts and housing services.

The lead agency of the event has shifted over the years from Housing Hope, Cocoon House, Snohomish County Health and Human Services, and now, to United Way of Snohomish County.

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