Outreach event targets homelessness while connecting to those in need

Homer Community Resource Connect provided services in Homer and Anchor Point

Project Community Resource Connect, formerly Homeless Connect, took place at the SPARC building in Homer and the Anchor Point Food Pantry on Tuesday.

Part of a nationwide event that happens in January, the goal of the event is to count people who come in for services and track their housing situations. The primary question on the in-take form is “Where did you sleep last night?” The intention is to get a better understanding of the homelessness issue in America.

“The survey is what brings people into the event but we have booths set up to help them get other services they may need,” Cinda Martin, event coordinator, said.

The event connected people to things like public assistance, Medicaid, housing, food, Sprout, Haven House, the Rec Room, the Kenai Peninsula School District Students in Transition program, Ninilchik Tribe and Clinic, Homer Medical and SVT and the Senior Center.

“Just a variety of different organizations that may be useful,” Martin said.

Robin McAllister with the Southern Kenai Peninsula and Ninilchik schools Students in Transition Program commented, “I can help with a million things, I can help with gear, clothes, adjusting transportation, afterschool programs, adjusting transportation and even FAFSA (free application for federal student aid) for kids who are heading to college. But, we can provide services and help from pre-school up.” McAllister also works with schools and communities across Kachemak Bay and is serving about 50 students now.

Deb Schmidt with the Homer Community Food Pantry offered some comments as well, “in the opening of the Homer Methodist Church we have a community free fridge and we stock it on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We are encouraging restaurants and businesses in the community to donate to the fridge. Currently people at the Food Pantry are also preparing food for it. People are providing eggs, yogurt, the only requirement for putting food there is that you put a date on when it was made and all of the included ingredients. We just can’t keep it filled. The need is rising more and more.” The pantry had 10 more families sign up over the past week; the local needs continues to grow.

On Tuesday, at the end of the SPARC building, there were tables set up with clothing, tents and sleeping bags donated by individuals, businesses and the local Emblem and Rotary Club. There were also diapers and formula available and person offering hair cuts.

There were at least 30-40 volunteers helping to run the event as well as 25 vendors.

By 1:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon the organization had seen about 100 customers come through the event.

“It was busy right when we started. There were 30 people lined up at the door right when we started at 11, definitely something useful to the community,” Martin said.

The Kenai Peninsula Homelessness Coalition held a similar event Tuesday and another was held in Seward Wednesday.

Emilie Springer can be reached at emilie.springer@homernews.com.