Each day, approximately 2000 people in Pierce County experience homelessness, and this number doesn’t include the low-income individuals and families who live without access to healthcare, social services and more. With a community at such high need for affordable access to these services, Project Homeless Connect (PHC) works to provide free healthcare benefits and services necessary for ensuring an improved quality of life.
Hosting four events annually each year, Pierce County is the only county in the region that provides free access to these services at such frequency. On Wednesday, Oct. 23, the Tacoma Dome hosted the Fall 2013 Project Homeless Connect event which provided homeless and low-income individuals the opportunity to get in-line for everything from free eye exams and flu shots to dental work and hair cuts. Event Coordinator, Alanna Budgers explained that, “Project Homeless Connect is a one-stop-shop for medical, dental, vision, housing, veteran services and more. With the recent public transit cuts, it’s difficult for people to bus out to DSHS, find out they don’t have proper ID and need to bus over to the Department of Licensing, then get sent somewhere else because they don’t have their birth certificate. PHC brings all those services together in one convenient location.”
Attendee of PHC’s Oct. 23, event, D’e Bradus said, “The services provided are wonderful and informative. The people are all very helpful and cheerful, and I love that they provide care and services for pets.” Others commented that they were able to walk away with new jeans, food stamps, Hepatitis B shots and more.
Erica Sullivan, PHC’s resource developer said that guests of the Oct. 23, event and future PHC events are now able to look forward to Affordable Health Care services. At the Affordable Health Care booth, attendees can enroll in long term and ongoing care, so that they have medical access even after the event is over. Sullivan added by saying, “the ultimate goal of Project Homeless Connect is to end homelessness and ensure that everyone in the community gains the tools necessary towards attaining self-sufficiency.”
In addition to bins full of toiletries, socks, hats and other essential items that guests were able to stock up on before leaving the event, also located near the exit was a haircut service station facilitated by student volunteers from BJ’s Beauty and Barber College. Project Homeless Connect Planning Team member, Adrian Johnson said, “It’s the happiest place at the whole event. This is where people come to get a transformation for themselves.”
More than just providing beneficial health and social services, PHC also raises awareness. Sullivan noted that, “after previous Project Homeless Connect events, communities such as Sumner, Bonney Lake and Puyallup recognized a higher need for access to services, and they now provide additional resources throughout the year.” Myron Brown, DDS, who was busy giving dental exams and teeth cleanings at the Oct. 23, PHC event said, “the community gives us so much, and this is a way we can give back to the community. It’s the least we can do.”
Sullivan encourages people wanting to make a contribution to help by volunteering at future PHC events, at local churches and food banks, by organizing local food and clothing drives, and by making donations. Project Homeless Connect hosts events in Tacoma, Spanaway, Puyallup/Sumner and the Key Peninsula. To find out about upcoming PHC events, become a volunteer, make a donation and more, visit Project Homeless Connect.