Sacramento Steps Forward's 3rd Annual Sacramento Homeless Connect

By Shannon Stevens

For those of us who live and work on the grid the fact that homelessness is a huge issue in this community is not surprising, we see homeless folks as we walk to work or bike to the park, maybe we get asked for some spare change here and there as we are on the way to grab a cup of coffee.

What might be alarming is that on any night in Sacramento 2,800 people are homeless. 57% of those are sheltered, 43% are unsheltered living on the streets, 20% are families. In one year in Sacramento up to 4,257 people in Sacramento experience homelessness.

So now you may find yourself asking what you can do to help…

On May 22nd, Sacramento Steps Forward will host the 3rd Annual Project Homeless Connect at Sacramento City College. This is a one day event that provides services for homeless folks in a one stop shop format, fostering an environment in which people can access a wide variety of services conveniently. Homeless Connect is modeled after the national Project Homeless Connect, which was established in 2004 in San Francisco. Our event began in Sacramento three years ago at Cal Expo. 2008’s Homeless Connect brought together over 50 partnering agencies which served about 600 homeless guests with the help of 200 community volunteers. The following year Homeless Connect switched locations to Sacramento City College, where 60 agencies worked together to provides services to 700 homeless guests with the help of 400 community volunteers. This year, we hope to reach over 800 homeless guests with 70 services providers and 500 community volunteers!
2009's Project Homeless Connect
When homeless folks arrive, they are welcomed by an intake team who collects information from them that will be helpful as they seek services. Each guest is paired with an intake volunteer, followed by a guest guide. Once their information has been collected our guest is walked to their preferred service location. This year we have health care stations, a vision van housing referrals, haircuts, cosmetics, foot washing and many many more!
Attendee receives a complimentary haircut at the 2009 event
Guests are treated to a lunch provided by our presenting sponsor the Salvation Army. There are also a couple of blues bands who provide entertainment through out the day. Transportation to and from the event is provided by partnering service agencies. Upon exiting the event, guests are given a to-go bag from the Salvation Army including many helpful items.

There are a few ways that you can help to make this event a success this year:

  • Volunteer: Homeless Connect relies on the enthusiasm and dedication of hundreds of community volunteers who are truly the life force of this event! Folks are asked to register with Hands On Sacramento in order to volunteer.  The event takes place on Saturday, May 22nd 10a – 3p at Sacramento City College. There is a mandatory orientation which will take place a few days before the event, for those who cannot attend an evening orientation there will be an early morning option on the day of the event.
  • Donate: Homeless Connect runs entirely on the money raised through sponsorship, in-kind donations and monetary online donations.

Sacramento Steps Forward is very excited about the event this year and we hope that you will consider joining us! Feel free to call with any questions: Shannon Stevens 916-447-7063 x.307

Shannon Stevens is on staff as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Sacramento Steps Forward. I was born and raised in North Long Beach, CA moved to midtown three years ago; thinking about ever leaving this part of the state is depressing though the idea of being back home near my brother can be tempting. I am always in the mood to drink coffee with friends, ride my bike or find the nearest happy hour…most times all in the same day.

EDITOR’s NOTE: We said we wanted to hear from you and we meant it!  Please submit all press releases, tips, reviews, articles and/or commentary to girlsonthegrid AT gmail DOT com.  We can’t promise we’ll use everything but we’ll definitely review everything.  Thanks again Ashlee – can’t wait to see the next article!

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