Project Homeless Connect program to aid homeless community in FoCo

Fort Collins homeless resident And Swanson recieves a free haircut from volunteer Teri Luna of Cheeks Beauty School during Project Homeless Connect at the Atzlan Community Center Friday morning. The annual event provides individuals and families suffering with homelessness with neccesary ammenities including doctor checkups, dental help, veterinary services and haircuts.
Fort Collins homeless resident And Swanson receives a free haircut from volunteer Teri Luna of Cheeks Beauty School during Project Homeless Connect at the Aztlan Community Center Friday morning. The annual event provides individuals and families suffering with homelessness with necessary amenities including doctor checkups, dental help, veterinary services and haircuts.

Project Homeless Connect, an all-day event on April 11 at the Aztlan Community Center in Old Town Fort Collins, is a partnership between CSU’s SLiCE office and local homelessness aid organization Homeward 2020.

Homeless Connect provides free services to those who need them by matching a homeless person individually with a volunteer.

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Volunteers sign up to guide homeless individuals through various services such as medical exams and legal services.

“We really try to emphasize kind of a mentorship on both sides,” said Caite Plunkett, junior history major and SLiCE student volunteer coordinator.

All people, despite their home situation, are able to offer others new knowledge and perspectives, according to Plunkett. Project Homeless Connect allows for this by facilitating conversations across class lines.

Becky Peters, a junior sociology major, has volunteered for Project Homeless Connect for years. She was a SLiCE intern through the President’s Leadership Program last year, and next year will take over Plunkett’s position as student volunteer coordinator.

“Being able to work with (Project Homeless Connect) has taught me a lot,” Peters said. “(Homelessness) is in the community. I feel like a lot of people, they shut their eyes … that happens a lot in Old Town. You get students going to the bars and students going out to eat, and they completely neglect to see (homeless) members of their community.”

Maggie Leuhrs, current SLiCE President’s Leadership Program intern and junior social work major, added that part of the importance of Project Homeless Connect is in recognizing and understanding homelessness in our community.

Leuhrs said that Project Homeless Connect is effective because it allows student and community volunteers to treat the homeless with understanding and respect.

“This is a really unique and a really incredible event because it emphasizes the humanity of homelessness,” Leuhrs said. “Project Homeless Connect really does an incredible job of debunking a lot of (homelessness) stereotypes, because there isn’t one true face of homelessness.”

To sign up to volunteer for the Homeless Connect event and be paired with an individual experiencing homelessness, visit the SLiCE website at slice.colostate.edu/project-homeless-connect.aspx. Volunteers take shifts from 7:50 to 10:30 a.m., or from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Collegian Reporter Ellie Mulder can be reached at news@collegian.com

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