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San Diego, CA — Ranging from winter shelter residents to families living on the streets, 941 homeless San Diegans passed through the doors at the San Diego Concourse’s Golden Hall today to receive assistance and donations at the 6th annual Project Homeless Connect.
Attendees were provided with health screenings, housing referrals, legal aid, food, clothing and other supportive services at the one-day resource fair. Last year, 660 homeless San Diegans were served and the numbers were expected to increase this year because of the economy.
More than 300 volunteers supported by over 65 non-profit service providers, businesses and local government agencies came together to take part in the annual event for San Diego’s homeless.
For the second year, the San Diego Housing Commission was the lead organizer for Project Homeless Connect, partnering with Family Health Centers of San Diego, St. Vincent de Paul Village, the Interfaith Shelter Network and other community organizations, including media partner U-T San Diego newspaper.
"Today, hundreds of homeless San Diegans in need received invaluable ‘life essentials’ such as clothing, haircuts, medical/dental screenings , and substance abuse counseling," said San Diego Housing Commission President and CEO Richard C. Gentry. "And it’s genuinely heart-warming to realize how many volunteers were willing to help with this worthy cause, including donations from San Diegans and businesses—it was overwhelming."
Among the homeless individuals who took advantage of Project Homeless Connect was Rickie, a 58-year-old former school bus driver originally from Indianapolis.
"Getting a job just isn’t as simple as it used to be," said Rickie, who has lived on the streets since moving from Indiana last year. "I’m fully trained as a school bus driver, heavy equipment operator and machinist, but I haven’t been able to get anything close to a job."
Rickie came to Project Homeless Connect to pick up much-needed clothing, a medical evaluation and also to get a free haircut from a volunteer stylist, his first such haircut in three months. He was one of 400 haircuts that were provided by more than 30 volunteer hairstylists.
Rachel, who is 34 years old and living on the streets, found out about Project Homeless Connect through flyers distributed by the San Diego Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team. Rachel came to receive dental care, provided again this year by volunteer members of the San Diego County Dental Society.
San Diego City Councilmember Todd Gloria toured the resource fair and thanked volunteer hairstylists who provided free haircuts. Councilmember David Alvarez headed straight to the clothing station to drop off several of his donated shirts and jackets. San Diego Police Chief Bill Lansdowne also visited today’s fair, thanking volunteers for their service.
The vendor at Qualcomm Stadium, Centerplate Merchandise, donated more than 600 new hats, t-shirts and sweatshirts, while over 100 new pairs of Old Navy jeans were anonymously donated at noon today. In addition, the public helped triple donations this year by cleaning out their closets and conducting clothing drives.
1122 Broadway, Suite 300, San Diego, CA 92101
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