Metro State hosts Denver's 10th Project Homeless Connect
More than 800 individuals attended the 10th Project Homeless Connect event.
Close to 400 Metropolitan State College of Denver students helped serve more than 800 individuals and families experiencing homelessness or at risk for becoming homeless in the Denver area at the 10th Project Homeless Connect (PHC), held at the Auraria Event Center on Oct. 29.
Presented by Mile High United Way and Denver's Road Home, PHC was spearheaded by Metro State's Center for Urban Connections, which worked in conjunction with the Auraria Campus, University of Colorado Denver and Colorado Community College of Denver.
"It was an amazing experience," said President Stephen Jordan. "I am very, very proud of our students and the Center for Urban Connections."
More than 1,100 volunteers representing all three Auraria institutions were at the event, and were employed to help clients on a one-to-one basis. The number of volunteers and size of the event has grown since the first PHC in December 2005.
"I'm really impressed with the volunteer turnout. Everyone had help when they needed it,"said Paul Cashman, a representative from the Harm Reduction Action Center, who was advocating a petition to end violence against the homeless population.
In addition to students, volunteers at the event included members of the community and service providers from various community organizations.
Volunteers, clad in yellow shirts, were paired with underserviced groups and individuals as they entered the Auraria Event Center. Having received training prior to the event, volunteers helped clients navigate the venue. Booths at the event were serviced by organizations such as the Inner City Parish, the County Community Re-entry Project and the Colorado Indigent Care Program.
Clients were offered a number of services during the event, including massages.
Various services and resources were provided at PHC, including a bag and coat check for personal belongings, rapid re-housing services, basic medical exams, food stamps, and legal advice and DMV services. Other services included haircuts, acupuncture, massages and child care.
One of the clients receiving services was Herson Romero, who stood in line three hours before the doors opened. While at PHC, Romero received a massage, acupuncture and a heart check up. He was paired with Lauren Watson, a student at Metro State studying to be a special education teacher. "This opens my eyes up to a whole new world I've never known," said Watson, a first time volunteer for PHC. "It's a great first experience and I owe it to [Romero]." Watson says she plans on volunteering again.
Job loss is one of the most common reasons reported for homelessness. Representatives from the Career Centers of Metro State, UCD and CCD worked to assist people with resume writing, setting up e-mail accounts, and using digital files. Flash drives were donated by United Way.
According to "Denver Metropolitan Area 2009 Homeless Point-In-Time Key Findings" study conducted by the Denver Metropolitan Homeless Initiative and the Denver Department of Human Services, more than 11,000 people were homeless in the Denver metropolitan area in January 2009. Project Homeless is just one of several services being implemented in Denver's 10-year plan to end homelessness.