|Plans being finalized for Project Homeless Connect in BG|
|Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor|
|Tuesday, 10 September 2013 09:14|
The countdown to D-Day for Project Homeless Connect continues, with the first-time Wood County event now just five weeks away.
Committees and volunteers are picking up steam, closing all the gaps to put together a seamless one-day, one-stop event. The goal is to provide an impressively broad range of free services to people who are currently homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in the near future.
The target audience is people who are living paycheck to paycheck, living in cars or outside, in shelters, or precariously "surfing between family and friends."
"In a split second life can change. Job loss, an episode of depression" and a host of other issues can take someone from a stable situation to a frightening one in just weeks or months, points out Jennifer Kephart, one of the co-chairpersons of the local PHC Steering Committee.
The inaugural PHC event for Wood County is scheduled for Oct. 16 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will take place at St. Mark's Lutheran Church at 315 S. College Drive, Bowling Green.
All services will be provided free and on the spot. Included in the extensive roster are haircuts, regular clothing and professional wardrobes, legal services, dental services, debt counseling and money management, mental health and substance abuse services, IDs, housing, and job-search assistance.
Job and Family Services as well as Veterans Assistance will also be on site.
A total of 75 or more volunteers will be needed in 41 different positions on Oct. 16.
"To date, we have 21 shifts filled - mostly in food preparation and dining," noted Esther Nagel, volunteer chairperson.
The day will be divided into two- or three-hour work shifts, and people are welcome to volunteer more than one shift.
A big question mark is how many people will show up to be helped that day, but organizers are thinking the number will be sizeable.
"We promoted this to the Habitat families," said Kephart, and buzz on the street is definitely positive.
The goal is to serve 100 to 200 individuals and families on this first day of what organizers hope will become a repeat event.
There are particular areas where the committee knows volunteer help is still needed.
Dental care is definitely one.
"We are seeking more dentists to donate their services; the more the better," Kephart said.
At-risk folks seeking dental care on Oct. 16 will need to make appointments in advance.
But haircuts will be offered on a walk-in basis, "first come, first serve."
Great Clips salon on South Main Street, Bowling Green, has volunteered to bring their equipment to St. Mark's, and some other local stylists have signed on, but here again, more volunteer stylists are definitely needed, along with people who can provide pedicures, manicures and massages.
Kephart was touched to hear an enthusiastic offer to volunteer from stylist Melissa Phillips of Northwood.
She and her family are past recipients of a Habitat house within the county. "She shared with me that she has been there, knows what it is like, and on PHC wants to volunteer to give back."
Local employers are also needed at the event.
"For someone with a criminal history or who hasn't worked in two years" as a result of the recent recession, finding a job is key to solving homelessness. "How exciting if even one person was offered a job that day," Kephart said.
Among many other agencies and entities planning to lend a hand Oct. 16:
• Wood County and Toledo Health Divisions will both be at St. Mark's with a mobile unit in the parking lot where blood screening and HIV testing can be done.
• The Wood County District Library will bring a computer to help people get set up with email, resume creation, and knowledge of library services.
• Salvation Army will be present to aid in the area of utility and rent assistance. "They'll also be signing up families for their holiday program."
• Home Aid Coalition and Reentry Coalition, which will serve people who have had a period of correctional incarceration.
• Cocoon Shelter, since "certainly one of the triggers of homelessness in the community is domestic violence," as Kephart pointed out.
Many Bowling Green State University students, especially social work majors, are planning to participate, and more are welcome. Volunteers do need to be at least 18 years of age.
Those who want to sign up to volunteer today may register with United Way's Volunteer Center online. Paper PHC volunteer applications are available at the BG Community Center, United Way in Wood County, and BGSU Office of Service Learning, 315 University Hall.
Service providers have a separate registration form: http://www.homeaidofwoodcounty.org/p/ho.html
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