Annual event will reach out to Everett’s homeless

EVERETT — Each summer, Project Homeless Connect offers people experiencing homelessness a daylong chance to get direct services, find resources and eat a hot meal. It’s all free. This year’s event will have a different home, Evergreen Middle School, but all the same help as before.

Services include haircuts, medical screenings, dental care, information on housing, veterans programs and much more.

Project Homeless Connect is scheduled for 9 a.m.-3 p.m. July 10 at Evergreen Middle School, 7621 Beverly Lane, just west of Evergreen Way in Everett.

The venue change is due to work being done on the gym floor at the previous location, Everett’s Cascade High School, according to Neil Parekh, a United Way of Snohomish County spokesman. Project Homeless Connect was held at Cascade the past three years.

It will be Evergreen Middle School’s gym, classrooms and outside areas that will double as hair salons, veterinary stations, vision and dental clinics, a dining hall, Social Security offices and private spaces for mental health and substance abuse screenings.

Launched in Everett in 2008, Project Homeless Connect is a growing collaboration among Snohomish County Human Services, United Way, the Snohomish Health District, the city of Everett, other nonprofit groups, volunteers and the Homeless Policy Task Force.

United Way of Snohomish County is now the event’s lead agency. Housing Hope, Cocoon House and Snohomish County Health and Human Services have filled that role in the past.

Parekh said 1,202 people registered at the 2013 event, and there were 335 service providers from 70 organizations, and 130 volunteers. Similar numbers are expected this year.

Online sign-ups for volunteers are being accepted by United Way through June 30. About half the volunteer slots are filled, Parekh said Monday. “From a volunteer perspective, there’s always a lot of interest,” he said.

Again this year, the YWCA is collecting new and gently used backpacks and new toiletries. More than 900 backpacks filled with soap, shampoo, shaving supplies and other items were given out at last year’s event, said Luanne Kunz, the YWCA regional community affairs coordinator. Donations may be dropped at YWCA sites in Lynnwood and Everett through July 7.

Kunz, who works at Project Homeless Connect each year, said “it’s amazing to look around the room and see the amount of energy Snohomish County puts together, under one roof in one day, for all these people.”

The help is meant to be lasting. Following a national model, Project Homeless Connect aims to deliver immediate services and provide long-term access to services.

“A person may have high blood pressure and not know it, or diabetes or cataracts,” Kunz said. “At the end of the day, it’s pretty awe-inspiring.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Project Homeless Connect

Project Homeless Connect will be held 9 a.m.-3 p.m. July 10 at Evergreen Middle School, 7621 Beverly Lane, Everett. Volunteers needed. Information: Michelle Morris at United Way of Snohomish County, 425-374-5541 or michelle.morris@uwsc.org.

Register to volunteer by June 30 at www.uwsc.org/phcsnoco.php.

New or gently used backpacks and new toiletries are needed. Bring items by July 7 to YWCA Pathways for Women Shelter, 6027 208th St. SW, Lynnwood, or YWCA Regional Center in Everett, 3301 Broadway. Information: 425-258-2766, ext. 150.

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