Critical connections for engaging homelessness

Every year, local service providers focusing on homelessness issues get together to meet, share notes and set up a one-stop destination for people seeking services associated with homelessness. Project Connect, held this year on Sept. 6 at First Baptist Church in Downtown Asheville, is a chance for people experiencing homelessness to access service providers and learn more about the community network of agencies, nonprofits and social organizations that focus on the challenges of homelessness.

200 people attended Project Connect over the course of the day, seeking out information about housing and job training as well as more immediate needs like free medical screenings and hair cuts provided by volunteers.

“Our smallest errands become harder when someone becomes homeless,” says Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative Coordinator Heather Dillashaw. “During Project Connect, people can find many different services and a lot of information under one roof.”

But Project Connect is also an important time for service providers to share information with one another and hear from people experiencing homelessness about which services still need to be met. In all, 30 different service providers attended.

“In order to provide as comprehensive a service as possible, we have to connect and communicate as a network to find overlaps in coverage and places where needs aren’t being met, and to see how we can all help each other in our mission to address homelessness,” Dillashaw said. “Project Connect is a great opportunity to fine tune our efforts.”

Project Connect was held in tandem with the Day of Caring, organized by United Way’s Hands On Asheville-Buncombe, a day when organizations and companies throughout the area observe by taking part in volunteer projects that make a difference in the community. 28 City of Asheville employees and 21 Mission Hospital Employees volunteered at last week’s Project Connect as part of their annual volunteer service projects.


Click here for more information about the Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative and to find out how to connect with service providers.