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The Daily Tar Heel

Project connects homeless to services

Thomas Miles came to Project Connect at the Hargraves Community 
Center on Tuesday for an eye exam and a pair of glasses.
Thomas Miles came to Project Connect at the Hargraves Community Center on Tuesday for an eye exam and a pair of glasses.

Project Connect is a one-day event connecting homeless and low-income people with a wide range of services, including employment, housing, health care, legal services and more.

The ninth annual event was held at the Hargraves Community Center and was organized by the Partnership to End Homelessness.

Allison De Marco, member of the steering committee and co-coordinator of the intake committee for Project Connect, said this is her eighth year volunteering at the event.

“I was a social worker. I’m a research scientist now, so this is a way for me to keep up my social work skills,” De Marco said.

De Marco said the event had about 200 volunteers — 55 were intake volunteers that help assess what services each person needs most.

De Marco said the main goal of the event is to provide health and wellness services to those who need it.

Service providers offered dental checks, blood pressure checks, vision checks and foot checks, among other things. De Marco said there were also legal, employment and housing services available, as well as voter registration.

Charles Gear and Michael Jenkins, attendees at the event, both said they planned on getting haircuts and were very excited.

“I think everybody needs to be groomed,” Jenkins said.

Jamie Rohe, former Homeless Program Coordinator, said changes are made to the event each year to try to improve it.

Rohe said she has coordinated the event every year, but the new homeless programs coordinator, Corey Root, will take over next year.

Rohe said the providers are doing a more in-depth intake this year than past years.

Rachel Stern, care coordinator at the Freedom House Recovery Center, helped with intake at the event.

Stern said she first attended Project Connect three years ago when she was an intern at Freedom House. She said she is doing intake for attendees who might have problems with substance abuse or mental health.

Volunteers gave attendees a questionnaire to help determine services to show the attendee.

If the person needs to be assessed further, Stern said she takes them to the provider who will be most useful to them. She said this helps determine what services a person is already receiving so the services do not overlap.

Gear, who said he has attended the event the past three years, said he was most excited about the housing services that are offered. Jenkins said he was also appreciative of the housing services.

“I think it’s a great thing they do,” Jenkins said. “They need more people doing it.”


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