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Volunteer Reflection: Project Homeless Connect 2016

As a first time participant in Project Homeless Connect, I was excited to see just how many volunteers came out to be matched with and to assist homeless individuals who were seeking help. While getting the event going does take quite a long time, and there is a great deal of standing in line waiting to meet your match- the day seemed to be a success overall.

I was paired with Claire*, who lost her job and found herself to be homeless with no family in the area to help pick her up when she was down. She attended Homeward’s event because she wanted to talk with someone about getting glasses, dental assistance, a warm lunch, and a copy of her birth certificate.

As we navigated the different service stations, she remained optimistic and overwhelmingly positive all day. I admired her spirit and her outlook as she frequently cited that she knew others had it much worse than her, because she had friends on the streets with her. She explained that they were a community together and stopped often to hug other participants and say hello.

I was able to connect Claire* with resources to receive all of the services she came for that day, and I was glad to have met her. Overall, I would encourage everyone, in the Richmond area, to volunteer at next year’s Project Homeless Connect, because it’s rewarding not only to help those in need, but also to get to know them. I have since seen Claire*, and we stopped to catch up.

She reported that she was doing well and had been assessed by Homeless Point of Entry, but was waiting to hear more information on what type of housing she will qualify for. She expressed reluctance towards entering a shelter, but I explained the services of HomeAgain hoping to dissuade her from relying on the streets… especially as the winter weather sets in.

I will keep looking out for Claire* and I hope to run into her again. She certainly taught me to look for the good in every situation and to keep moving, but to choose your own path. I look forward to participating in this event again next year, but would strongly encourage our community to remember that there are volunteer opportunities, across the Continuum of Care, each and every day- not just during Homeward’s annual event. Let’s use the momentum they set in motion and strive to continue our assistance year-round for those who are most vulnerable in our city.

For more information on how to volunteer with HomeAgain, please visit: http://homeagainrichmond.org/

If you would like to learn more about Project Homeless Connect, please see: http://homewardva.org/projecthomelessconnect

*The name of the individual served has been altered to protect her right to privacy.