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Project Housing Connect a Success

November 30, 2011

Project Housing Connect achieved its goal: Midland area residents who struggle to stay sheltered, fed, and clothed made face-to-face connections with a wide range of local sources of help.

Sponsored by Midland County Continuum of Care, the one-day event attracted well over 200 people to Fellowship Hall of the First United Methodist Church of Midland in mid-November.

Midland County Circuit Judge Jon Lauderbach serves soup at Project Housing Connect

Amanda Johnson, Housing Resource Specialist at Midland Area Homes and coordinator for Project Housing Connect, was very pleased with the turnout. She said, “The day went very well. We had approximately the same amount of people attending as we had last year and were able to connect over 170 households to a variety of different services at Project Housing Connect.”

Johnson drew special attention to some new aspects of the event, saying, “New this year were more direct services, including cholesterol screenings, bone density screenings and haircuts. These new direct services were a hit with those that attended.” 

Hidden Harvest worker hands out potatoes and other non-perishables

Shelterhouse Executive Director Sharon Mortensen, who chairs the Continuum of Care, shared Johnson’s evaluation, declaring Project Housing Connect a success. She said, “Under one roof individuals were able to talk with representatives from 26 agencies, and eat lunch, get coats or hats as needed, receive free haircuts, and take away a bag of food for their families.”

Young parents came, carrying infants, pushing strollers, or hanging on to toddlers. Older folks were there, too, some in wheel chairs. After registering they all filed into the spacious hall in quest of information and assistance and especially the free items awaiting them in the giveaway room.

They were welcomed by representatives from more than two dozen private and public social service agencies such as Midland Area Homes, The Open Door, Michigan Works, Midland Cancer Services, and Caring Network. Each agency was assigned to one of the booths which filled a large portion of the church’s Fellowship Hall.

In many instances those with a specific need could apply for assistance on the spot. By the end of the three-hour event Amy Meilink, lead attorney for Eastern Michigan Legal Services, had accumulated a stack of applications to take back to her office for processing.

Everyone who came was invited to a hearty lunch provided by the Open Door. Local elected officials were among the volunteers who took turns in the serving line. They included Circuit Judges Jon Lauderbach and Michael Beale, State Representative Jim Stamas, Midland County Commissioner Rose Marie McQuaid, and City of Midland Mayor Maureen Donker.

Hardly anyone who attended the event passed up the opportunity to visit the well-stocked giveaway room. They were rewarded for waiting patiently in line with armloads of free winter coats, shoes, clothing for both adults and children, bedding, personal care items, laundry detergent and cleaning supplies.

Not all of the good stuff was inside. Hidden Harvest’s big truck was parked on Larkin St. From its big rear door came ten pound sacks of potatoes and bags of other non-perishables.

Project Housing Connect was held in the middle of National Homeless Awareness Week, one week before the Thanksgiving holiday as a nationwide effort to promote awareness of hunger and homelessness.

Midland County Continuum of Care combines the efforts of 28 agencies to head off homelessness by providing housing-related services to those who are homeless or living in substandard housing.


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