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Program to provide for homeless, raise awareness

Project+Homeless+Connect
Project Homeless Connect

Homeless people may be students, relatives, friends and co-workers, and there are 145 of them in Wood County.

Homelessness is something people often associate with urban areas, but it’s also something that affects suburban areas.

Project Homeless Connect is a national program that aims to aid homeless people and raise awareness about homelessness. It’s coming to Wood County for the first time on Oct. 16.

“It’s an opportunity for people who are homeless or pending homeless to access goods and services in one place,” said Tricia Peters, publicity co-chair for the event.

Taking place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church on South College Drive, the event is a “huge collaboration,” Peters said.

There are many community partners involved, and at the University, the Office of Service Learning, the Social Work Program and an art class are involved.

Janet Ballweg, professor of Art, got connected to the project through University Director of Service Learning Jane Rosser. Ballweg used the partnership as a service learning project for her screen printing class.

Her class of about 15 students spent a few hours this past week making t-shirts for the volunteers at the event.

“Everybody worked really well as a team to get the job done,” Ballweg said.

Project Homeless Connect members even joined in and helped.

“Because [they were] there to help … it felt like we were working with them,” Ballweg said. “It really felt during the event that students were pretty engaged and willing to stay and see the project through.”

Ballweg doesn’t usually take on projects like Project Homeless Connect for her service learning class, but this “felt like it was the right thing to do,” she said.

“It’s a completely voluntary event and a huge event for BG,” she said. “To raise awareness for homelessness.”

She said the project brought her class closer together and helped the students “get a sense that they were involved in a larger project.”

Senior Ashleigh Rothrock participated in the screen-printing project and said she thinks the project is important to do here because it raises awareness of homelessness.

“It’s a college town and all college students don’t really see past their college selves,” she said. “To work with this, it kind of opens your eyes to see, I’m not the only one that’s important.”

The T-shirts are color-coded and will make it easier for guests of the event to identify the different types of volunteers, Peters said.

The goal of the event is to serve between 100 and 200 individuals, and some Project Homeless Connect events get up to 500 people, Peters said.

“No one will be turned away,” she said.

Any student who could benefit from the services is also welcome to attend as a guest, she said.

Guests will be greeted in the church parking lot by the Salvation Army and then by a host inside the church. Everything is free and guests will have the opportunity for confidentiality, Peters said.

Several services will be offered, from showers, personal care items, diapers, birth certificates, IDs, transportation, housing and more. Everyone can leave with a hot meal and a hat, boots and a coat.

“This is the pilot year, so hopefully the event will take off and continue,” Peters said.

Project Homeless Connect is still welcoming volunteers, if interested, email

[email protected].

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