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First Project Homeless Connect in Harford County touches hundreds of lives

Date: January 29, 2016

“I’ve been in and out of shelters for the past two years and always felt inferior. Today, I felt like the most important person in the room. I felt listened to and I got the help I needed. Thank you so much.”   -Project Homeless Connect participant

That’s just one of many stories from the first-ever Project Homeless Connect in Harford County, Maryland. On January 28, hundreds of caring volunteers joined us to help more than 400 Harford County individuals and families in need.

The day was full of hope, smiles and tears of joy, thanks to dedicated volunteers and service providers who took the time to make sure everyone – from infants and children, to single mothers and families, to young men, veterans and seniors – knew that somebody cared about them and was there to help.

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Services offered included haircuts, dental exams and extractions, eye exams and glasses, identification cards, flu shots, employment services, housing, food and clothing giveaways, and much more.

Volunteers were matched one-on-one with participants, guiding them through more than 50 critical services. Sarah, a volunteer, was previously facing homelessness but had recently found a job working in retail in Harford County and is now proud to be back on her feet. She said she volunteered at Project Homeless Connect because she “knows what it’s like.”

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Another volunteer who had recently lost her job said helping the families at this event put her own challenges in perspective.

Even students played a part, packing and passing out hygiene kits full of shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste. One of the youngest volunteers, nine-year-old Angelina, personally made “blessing bags” to distribute to those in need at the event, accompanied by her mom. Other volunteers cuddled babies and played with small children so their parents could focus on getting the help they needed, like meeting one-on-one with a workforce development coach or getting a vision test and glasses.

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Early results show that more than 90 children and adults received haircuts and dentists performed more than 40 dental extractions, with many more scheduled following the event – all pro bono. At first, Mike, a veteran about to turn 60, was worried about how much the dental services were going to cost and that he couldn’t afford them. He just couldn’t believe that everything was provided at free of charge. As he waited in line to get a free emergency phone, he said the first person he was going to call was his volunteer guide to say thank you.

In addition to volunteers, scores of dedicated service providers spent all day administering flu shots, checking blood pressure, answering questions about government benefits, helping with employment applications, passing out food and providing countless resources to everyone in need. And thanks to Pat’s Pizzeria and Subway, no one left the event hungry.

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Project Homeless Connect Harford County was a huge success, made possible in part by generous partnerships with Harford County Government, Healthy Harford and Jones Junction, as well as the unwavering leadership of United Way’s Harford County community partnership board. And we can’t thank our volunteers and service providers enough for giving up their day to be there for our neighbors in need.

Project Homeless connect is also held annually in Baltimore City, where it served nearly 2,000 individuals and families in need last year, making it one of the largest events of its kind in the country for the last four years. For more information, visit uwcm.org/phc.

11 COMMENTS

  1. We had the privilege to serve as shepherds and help ensure participants made contact with all the services they needed. It was a terrific volunteer opportunity and we made several new friends. Hats off to those who organized this event and made it happen even with a blizzard. Looking forward to future volunteer opportunities.

    • Thank you so much for volunteering at Project Homeless Connect! Hope to see you again at future events.

  2. I participated as a volunteer at PHC Harford. This event was one of the single most important days of my life helping those in need in our community. I was completely amazed by the overall gift of compassion and love for one another. Whoever came up with the idea to assemble and offer a complete portfolio of products and government/professional services in a one stop shop setting was an absolute genius. I will forever be a better person for volunteering for PHC. I hope all the counties in the UWCM footprint have the courage to undertake a PHC event in their counties. While I left completely exhausted at the end of the day from setup the evening before and execution the day of, I also left thinking, “I can’t wait until we do this again in Harford County”. I am humbled by the opportunity to serve on the Harford County Partnership Board but most importantly I am humbled by the opportunity to serve as a volunteer! Thank you to those who had the courage to attend PHC Harford as participants, thank you to the service providers and volunteers, and thank you to the United Way for making Harford County a better caring and compassionate county for all who live here. Sincerely, Rob Sargent

    • Thank you for volunteering at the event and for being United Way’s “eyes and ears” in Harford County as a partnership board member. We are so grateful to have dedicated volunteers who help us make our work happen. Looking forward to many more successful Project Homeless Connect events in the future and we hope you’ll join us again!

  3. I loved being a “Shepherd” this day, making sure those in-need got the right guidance/assistance to better their lives. Even giving out HUGS was welcomed by many! Looking forward to doing this again next year in Harford County.

  4. I wanted to volunteer for this event but since it was on a week day I was unable to. I would love to volunteer in the future if any event is scheduled for a week-end…I think this event was a fantastic thing to do for our homeless and elderly people in Harford county!

    • Hi Linda, thanks for your interest. Someone from our team will reach out to you about weekend opportunities. We’re looking forward to having you as a volunteer!

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