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Project Connects Homeless With Services

Jan. 27, 2011

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One middle-aged man making use of the services at the Salvation Army chapel yesterday morning had arrived in Waco just two days ago. In a new town, and with nowhere to go, he greeted Project Homeless Connect in almost the same sense of excitement that a child greets a trip to the toy store.

These services and products were provided by the nearly 40 agencies participating that serve the homeless and needy in the community in some way. The event, put on by the Heart of Texas Homeless Coalition, served over 140 people yesterday.

For Terri Holtkamp, homeless administrator for the city of Waco, Thursday began well before 6 a.m., as she and others were out rounding up the needy who could use the services of the project. The dozen briskets smoked by her husband and served to the homeless are evidence of just some of the work and planning that went into the day. Ken Moerbe of the McLennan County Hunger Coalition showed that a short walk down the hallway could take the needy to a variety of services.

Throughout the various rooms, veterans were being plugged into services offered to them, coats and bath essentials were being handed out, medical attention and advice was dispensed, and tables representing the organizations involved allowed the homeless to meet with the agencies that could serve them. A seemingly minor, yet very important, aspect of the day was a point in time survey given to the 140 participants. Not just demographic information, the survey pinpointed medical attention received by the homeless, as well as how long it had been since they had received key services.

The gathering of the homeless in one spot is valuable for the helpers as well. Essentially, the information they receives helps them help the homeless better, says Holtkamp.

The 140 participants represented the largest number ever at the event; interestingly, nearly 40 percent of them were female. Numbers like that lead to questions, questions that can only be answered by the information gleaned from an event like the Project Homeless Connect. For KWBU News, I'm Derek Smith.

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