Project Homeless Connect to reach out in community

By Rebecca Fiedler
Staff Writer

Project Homeless Connect will provide Waco’s homeless this Thursday with the opportunity to access different social services and resources from over 30 local organizations and nonprofits.

The Heart of Texas Homeless Coalition will host the event at the Waco Convention Center from 9 a.m. to noon on Thursday.

Multiple booths will be set up at the convention center for services such as medical resources, job resources, immunizations, grooming for pets and more. Anyone wishing to participate in the event may drop off coats to the convention center, Wednesday afternoon and Thursday at the event itself.

Michael Ormsby, Vice Chair of the Heart of Texas Homeless Coalition, said people are welcome to arrive at 8:30 a.m. or 9 a.m. on Thursday morning to be trained and help out as volunteers.

“Project Homeless Connect is specifically designed to provide resources to people who are chronically homeless,” said Cheryl Pooler, homeless liaison for Waco Independent School District. “These people are often adult men, women and veterans. They are the kind of the people you see in the park, or in the alleged tent city that, depending on whom you talk to, we do or don’t have.”

The event has been advertised to the community via multiple organizations and nonprofits around Waco.

Annually the city of Waco uses Project Homeless Connect to conduct a “point in time” count, which is a census of those who live homeless in the city, in order for the community to receive federal funding from the department of Housing and Urban Development.

“What Waco has decided to do, as is done in many other communities, is provide resources that may help lead homeless people out of chronic homelessness, along with counting the people.” Pooler said.

Volunteers will perform a needs assessment for each homeless person.

The person will then be escorted through booths by volunteers to receive resources specific to that person’s situation.

“Essentially our goal is to engage these folks with resources that will benefit them and move them to a place out of homelessness,” said Ormsby.

The turnout for the event has been approximately 160 homeless people each year for the past couple of years, Ormsby said.

Typically around 100 volunteers and workers assist each year.