Students and faculty participate in Project Homeless Connect

On October 19 Wood County Ohio held its fourth successful Project Homeless Connect (PHC) event at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Bowling Green, Ohio. Numerous BGSU faculty, staff and community members volunteered their time and talents to plan and host this event.

Project Connect is designed to provide immediate goods and services to homeless individuals, those nearing homelessness, and other at-risk populations. It offers basic needs and critical services over one day at one location. Along with providing valuable and necessary services to help alleviate homelessness, service providers have the opportunity to network with different agency members, and reinforce relationships, collaborations, and partnerships.

Drs. Mamta Ojha, assistant professor of social work, and Melissa Burek, associate professor of criminal justice and associate dean, have been integrally involved with Project Connect since its inception. They have headed up the Administration Committee for the past three years. In that capacity they are responsible for developing all the forms, surveys and other documents for the project. On the day of the annual event, they oversee data collection from clients, volunteers, and service providers, after which they analyze the data and write a report for PHC and the Wood County community. Their goal is to improve current services and identify future needs.

“Project Connect is truly a community event and involves over 300 people throughout all phases, with the majority serving on the day of the event,” said Burek. “This year we had more BGSU volunteers than in the previous three years. I am so appreciative of how we all come together for our community members who need to make connections today for more hopeful tomorrows.“

This year 574 individuals in need of support attended the event. A host of supportive services and goods were provided from over 58 community providers, including hot meals, clothing, haircuts, food, medical care, dental care, substance abuse and mental health services, housing, legal information, employment assistance, and information on how to access basic services in the future.