Skagit Valley Assists Project Homeless Connect

October 15, 2014 | Sharon Wilson

Not many are thinking about homelessness on a bright, sunny, warm summer day, but Sept. 11 found North Cascade Church members, Skagit Adventist Academy (SAA) juniors and seniors along with three teachers, and two Adventist home-schooling families participating in Project Homeless Connect in the Skagit Valley area.

Project Homeless Connect (PHC) is a one-day, annual event that “provides an opportunity to connect families and individuals experiencing homelessness to health and community services that establish pathways to ongoing recovery and prosperity,” according to the project's website.

Coordinated by North Cascade Church member Cindy Hartley, church families provided supplies and staff for two booths. Hartley reports church members donated 175 backpacks, which were in high demand with all backpacks handed out within the first two hours. Church members and local businesses also donated enough supplies to fill 450 toiletries bags. “These always go fast,” Hartley explains, having worked with this event in previous years.“PHC doesn’t end until 4 p.m., but all these bags will be gone by about 1 o’clock.”

While some of the SAA students and home-school families sorted and organized donated clothes and shoes, other students helped set up booths, moved trash and recycle bins, and carried food and water to the volunteers. A couple of the church members and home-school parents worked as guides by directing guests to the different available services. When asked why they participated this year, Dana Schafer, home-school parent of three, responds, “My son really wanted to participate after watching the slide presentation at church of last year’s event.”

Being a mostly outdoor event, guests and volunteers enjoyed the perfect weather, but for the homeless these supplies and services will especially be useful in the coming days when the weather is far less than perfect. This year's numbers aren’t in yet, but Skagit PHC reports that, in 2013, more than 800 families and individuals experiencing homelessness or at risk of being homeless got connected to more than 100 service providers and members in the local community.