April 22 07:12 AM
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Project Homeless Connect is reaching out

To the Editor:

This year's third annual Project Homeless Connect, held Nov. 4 was bigger and better than ever. A total of 41 agencies and vendors participated in providing services, information, and free give- aways to the participants, who were homeless, at risk of becoming homeless soon, or in severe financial need. It is estimated that 161 adults participated, representing 380 family members. Other organizations provided funding including the Kiwanis and the Thrivent Group for Lutherans.

This year our new Walgreen Pharmacy participated and passed out candy and toothbrush kits to the participants. Other vendors including St. Mathew's Church and Love, INC. gave away baby food, diapers, formula, etc for parents with young children. The Lapeer Eagle Riders organized a drive to put together "survival kits" for those believed to be living in the parks, parking lots or their cars. The bags included items like a blanket, toilet paper, shampoo, laundry soap, wash clothes, a can opener, etc. Jeff Bowe, secretary for the Eagle Riders reports they gave away thirty plus kits during the one day event. The Eagle Riders raised $500 to supply the emergency kits. Lapeer Regional Hospital offered free blood pressure checks, as did Hometown Hospice who added a second free service this year with glucose blood checks.

One of the participants, Suzanne shared her impressions of the event, "I think this is great, everything is all together in one spot. Lapeer County is caring enough to do this for us, I did not know that the county cared so much."

The participants received a hot lunch, a box of food from the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, a chance to shop for free, gently used, and new clothing, an opportunity to get a free hair cut from one of four hairdressers on site, personal care items collected by the New to You Consignment store and many other services.

Lapeer Co. Community Mental Health offered free confidential mental health screenings as untreated mental health issues can be a risk factor for homelessness and helped to plan the event. Other agencies that participated in the year long planning of this event included Blue Water Center for Independent Living, LACADA, Lapeer County Housing Resource Center, Love, Inc., Lapeer County Veteran's Affairs, and The Human Development Commission. The volunteer Chairman for the planning committee was Ron Belcher and Bette Keeley organized the recruitment of volunteers who included the OMNI Club, local students, the naval recruits, and people from our community. One volunteer was girl scout, Chafin McKeehan, who gave up a day at school, basketball practice and a girl scout meeting to be there to help because she believes volunteering to help others is among the most important things in life. We do too, and hope that others who may be at risk of becoming homeless will seek out help from one of the many agencies who will be available year round to help. For more information on housing and other needs, please contact the First Call for Help at 667-3114.


—Melody Munro-Wolfe, LMSW

Communications Specialist

Lapeer Co. Community Mental Health

November 17, 2010

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