Project Homeless Connect
More than 100 homeless men and women were treated to a hot breakfast Monday, and given essentials to make them more comfortable: personal hygiene items, blankets, long johns & socks (Just in time for the first Mississippi cold snap), food staples, and more. The local United Way of SE Mississippi has been doing a "census" of the area homeless for the past few years and this annual service event helps to connect them to the products and services they need. United way volunteers "invite" the guests by actually going to them in their known encampment areas prior to Project Homeless Connect, and on event day public transit us used to dispatch them to the event and back (not really) home afterwards. They were given bags to keep their goodies; most commented that it was the closest thing to Christmas they will know. Local volunteers including myself, were escorts for the guests, ensuring that they were able to visit each vendor booth and understand potentially needed services. There was also health screening - AIDS, pregnancy, diabetes, BP. and more screening was done by area nursing students.
Our local drivers and Ops teams donated personal hygiene/ first aid items for the tote bag giveaways. Any remaining bags and supplies will be used for the ongoing homeless projects staged in the Mississippi Pine Belt. I was humbled hearing about the plight of Shelly (shown in picture) who ended up in MS from California, having come here to aid someone in her family who later abused and abandoned her. Now she is stuck with no means to get home and no one to go home to, so she makes her home in the woods behind a local Walmart. She was especially grateful to learn how she can go about getting herself a photo ID, which will help her qualify for other needed services.