Alex Frazier (left) cuts the hair of Cody Phillips while David Hutton does Lohti Hevly’s hair during last year’s Project Homeless Connect. The two were volunteering from Paroba College of Cosmetology in Everett. This year’s event is scheduled for 9 a.m.-2 p.m. July 20 at Evergreen Middle School in Everett. (Dan Bates/The Herald)

At Project Homeless Connect, neighbors help neighbors

Cookies are no cure for homelessness, but the sweet treats deliver a message: Someone cares. With the annual Project Homeless Connect event coming up later this month, bakers from a local church are among about 100 providers ready to help.

“I just love the whole aspect of bringing everyone together and helping our neighbors, both with basic needs and immediate services and for the longer term,” said Lynsey Gagnon, United Way of Snohomish County’s manager of impact integration.

Project Homeless Connect, scheduled for 9 a.m.-2 p.m. July 20 at Everett’s Evergreen Middle School, offers free assistance to people who are homeless or have very low incomes. This will be the ninth year for the event, which is returning to the middle school after being staged last year at Everett High School.

At stations in and outside Evergreen, volunteers and organizations will offer hot meals, haircuts, medical and dental care, showers and laundry service, screening for benefits or substance abuse, housing information, shoes, backpacks and much more.

United Way is the event’s lead organizer this year. Major partners include the Snohomish County Human Services Department, the Snohomish Health District, the city of Everett and Catholic Community Services of Western Washington. Housing Hope will be there, along with Volunteers of America Western Washington, providing information about housing and mental health services. And YWCA Seattle King Snohomish collected hygiene items to fill backpacks.

Gagnon said a $55,000 grant from the Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound is supporting this year’s Project Homeless Connect.

Along with large organizations delivering help will be the bakers from Everett’s Madison Community Church. “We have maybe 15 to 20 people in our church who will bake cookies,” said Darlene Doyle, outreach leader at the church.

“We’re planning on 3,000 cookies. It’s a lot,” Doyle said. Some of those goodies will be provided by Salt of the Earth Food Bank gleaning from grocery stores.

Doyle said she volunteers at the Everett Gospel Mission, the agency that will cook hot lunches for an expected 1,000 people at the July 20 event. “They were talking about Project Homeless Connect, and I wondered what we could do. I asked if we could serve cookies,” Doyle said.

That was four years ago. Bakers from Madison Community Church have been a welcome addition to Project Homeless Connect ever since. “We’re a small church, we don’t have a lot of resources. But we really are trying to reach out to the community,” Doyle said.

Brenna Anderst, United Way’s engagement and volunteerism manager, said volunteers are still needed for July 20 and to help set up the day before. Volunteers should register with United Way by July 19.

Last year, 933 people were served at Project Homeless Connect, Gagnon said. There were 460 staff and volunteers from participating groups, and 191 volunteers with United Way.

A summary of the 2017 Point in Time count, conducted in January, showed 515 people living without shelter in Snohomish County, an increase of 9 percent from the previous year.

People surviving on the streets aren’t the only ones helped at Project Homeless Connect. The Seattle-based charity Redeeming Soles will be there to provide shoes to kids and adults. Children and family services, educational and employment organizations, and agencies that serve military veterans will be there.

Everett Transit bus service will be free during the event. Three dental vans will provide care, and PAWS and the Everett Animal Shelter will board animals during Project Homeless Connect. Haircuts, provided by Paroba College of Cosmetology, are a popular offering.

This year, the mobile shower unit will start serving people at 7:30 a.m., before doors to Project Homeless Connect open. And outside the school, the nonprofit Everybody’s Closet will provide used clothing.

“We haven’t had a provider specifically for clothing before,” Gagnon said. “It’s nice to have a grassroots group.”

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

Homeless Connect volunteers needed

Project Homeless Connect is scheduled for 9 a.m.-2 p.m. July 20 at Evergreen Middle School, 7621 Beverly Lane, Everett. Mobile shower unit opens at 7:30 a.m. on event day. Volunteers needed to help with set-up July 19 and with registration, meal service and other support July 20. Registration for volunteers needed by July 19. Volunteer information available at https://www.uwsc.org/phcsnoco

Volunteers may also call Brenna Anderst at 425-374-5557 or send an email to brenna.aderst@uwsc.org.

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