[Hpn] Homeless project links needy with services

William Charles Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Sun, 01 Apr 2007 05:52:58 -0400


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http://www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2007/04/01/news/local/35-homeless=
.txt

Homeless project links needy with services=20
By BECKY SHAY=20
Of The Gazette Staff

For months, a Billings homeless man has been telling Lynda Woods, "You =
need to listen to us."

As Woods worked to help organize the Project Homeless Connect event that =
linked homeless people with service providers, she kept that man's words =
in mind. She listened when homeless people said they needed everything =
from denture cream to job information.

Project Homeless Connect brought 28 service providers and 140 volunteers =
to Billings Parmly Library. That homeless man who had been telling Woods =
to listen was among the more than 200 people who received services and =
information.

"Today, he said 'You heard us,' " Woods said, showing a grin and tears.=20
=20
The daylong event was meant to bring services together in one place for =
homeless people to gather information and help on housing, health care, =
legal issues and other basic needs. It was organized by the Mayor's =
Committee on Homelessness.

Mayor Ron Tussing was at the event but said he didn't do much of the =
work. Tussing said he was deeply impressed by the effort of the =
committee and other volunteers.

"It's just amazing how much work they have done," Tussing said.

The number of people who attended Project Homeless Connect was "good =
news, bad news," Tussing said.

"It's too bad that number of people needed help, but it's good they can =
get it in one-stop shopping," he said.

Tussing said he also was pleased that people came in not only for items =
like lunch, hygiene kits and clothing, but also for contacts for =
education and other services.

The Committee on Homelessness is "not the sexiest civic endeavor you can =
be involved in," Tussing said, yet it always has a large number of =
applications to serve. The committee members are representatives of =
various disciplines that can network and coordinate their efforts, he =
said.

One of the people who received assistance was Darlene, an outgoing woman =
who said she has been homeless for about a year. She has a little dog, =
which is not allowed in shelters, so she lives in her car. She picked up =
some clothing and toiletries and a lot of information.

"It's been real helpful here," Darlene said.

Darlene said some state and federal programs could learn from the =
volunteer effort. She has been involved in a food stamp training =
program, but she said she learned much more by spending a few hours at =
Project Homeless Connect. It was good information, Darlene said, like =
where to take a shower and where to receive medical help.

"This is really good," she said. "They should have it more often."

People who received services were escorted through the process with a =
volunteer host.

Committee members Judy Stewart and Kathie Shandera said many of the =
hosts did not have previous experience working with the homeless. =
Several of the hosts commented they were amazed by the experience, the =
women said. Some of the hosts told committee members they didn't realize =
how many homeless people were educated and did not make the choice to =
become homeless, nor did they want to remain so.

"They are somewhat surprised at some of the stories of how people got =
here," Stewart said.

Volunteer Connie Lough, who helped distribute clothing, said she was =
"totally clueless" about the homeless population. Lough said she loves =
to volunteer, so it was natural to offer her time, but she benefited by =
learning about the "real need" that homeless people have in Billings.

"They apparently have a place to stay at night, but they don't have a =
place for their personal property," she said. "Most just took a few =
pieces of underclothes and pants if we had them. There is a real need to =
go get warm, dry clothes."

The volunteers ranged from teens to an 85-year-old, Shandera said. The =
event seemed positive for volunteers and people from the homeless =
population.

"We're happy because it seems like everybody is having a good =
experience," Stewart said.

Contact Becky Shay at bshay@billingsgazette.com or 657-1231.=20


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href=3D"http://www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2007/04/01/news/local/35-=
homeless.txt">http://www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2007/04/01/news/loc=
al/35-homeless.txt</A></FONT></DIV>
<DIV class=3Dstoryhead>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV class=3Dstoryhead>Homeless project links needy with services=20
<DIV class=3Dsubhead></DIV></DIV>
<P class=3Dbyline><B>By BECKY SHAY <BR>Of The Gazette Staff</B></P>For =
months, a=20
Billings homeless man has been telling Lynda Woods, "You need to listen =
to=20
us."<BR><BR>As Woods worked to help organize the Project Homeless =
Connect event=20
that linked homeless people with service providers, she kept that man's =
words in=20
mind. She listened when homeless people said they needed everything from =
denture=20
cream to job information.<BR><BR>Project Homeless Connect brought 28 =
service=20
providers and 140 volunteers to Billings Parmly Library. That homeless =
man who=20
had been telling Woods to listen was among the more than 200 people who =
received=20
services and information.<BR><BR>"Today, he said 'You heard us,' " Woods =
said,=20
showing a grin and tears.=20
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<SCRIPT src=3D"http://adsys.townnews.com/global/capped.js"=20
type=3Dtext/javascript></SCRIPT>
<A=20
href=3D"http://adsys.townnews.com/c98031072/creative/billingsgazette.net/=
news+local+middle/35003.gif?r=3Dhttp://www.billingsfcu.org/products/savin=
gs.html#iras"=20
target=3D_blank></A>&nbsp;</DIV>The daylong event was meant to bring =
services=20
together in one place for homeless people to gather information and help =
on=20
housing, health care, legal issues and other basic needs. It was =
organized by=20
the Mayor's Committee on Homelessness.<BR><BR>Mayor Ron Tussing was at =
the event=20
but said he didn't do much of the work. Tussing said he was deeply =
impressed by=20
the effort of the committee and other volunteers.<BR><BR>"It's just =
amazing how=20
much work they have done," Tussing said.<BR><BR>The number of people who =

attended Project Homeless Connect was "good news, bad news," Tussing=20
said.<BR><BR>"It's too bad that number of people needed help, but it's =
good they=20
can get it in one-stop shopping," he said.<BR><BR>Tussing said he also =
was=20
pleased that people came in not only for items like lunch, hygiene kits =
and=20
clothing, but also for contacts for education and other =
services.<BR><BR>The=20
Committee on Homelessness is "not the sexiest civic endeavor you can be =
involved=20
in," Tussing said, yet it always has a large number of applications to =
serve.=20
The committee members are representatives of various disciplines that =
can=20
network and coordinate their efforts, he said.<BR><BR>One of the people =
who=20
received assistance was Darlene, an outgoing woman who said she has been =

homeless for about a year. She has a little dog, which is not allowed in =

shelters, so she lives in her car. She picked up some clothing and =
toiletries=20
and a lot of information.<BR><BR>"It's been real helpful here," Darlene=20
said.<BR><BR>Darlene said some state and federal programs could learn =
from the=20
volunteer effort. She has been involved in a food stamp training =
program, but=20
she said she learned much more by spending a few hours at Project =
Homeless=20
Connect. It was good information, Darlene said, like where to take a =
shower and=20
where to receive medical help.<BR><BR>"This is really good," she said. =
"They=20
should have it more often."<BR><BR>People who received services were =
escorted=20
through the process with a volunteer host.<BR><BR>Committee members Judy =
Stewart=20
and Kathie Shandera said many of the hosts did not have previous =
experience=20
working with the homeless. Several of the hosts commented they were =
amazed by=20
the experience, the women said. Some of the hosts told committee members =
they=20
didn't realize how many homeless people were educated and did not make =
the=20
choice to become homeless, nor did they want to remain so.<BR><BR>"They =
are=20
somewhat surprised at some of the stories of how people got here," =
Stewart=20
said.<BR><BR>Volunteer Connie Lough, who helped distribute clothing, =
said she=20
was "totally clueless" about the homeless population. Lough said she =
loves to=20
volunteer, so it was natural to offer her time, but she benefited by =
learning=20
about the "real need" that homeless people have in =
Billings.<BR><BR>"They=20
apparently have a place to stay at night, but they don't have a place =
for their=20
personal property," she said. "Most just took a few pieces of =
underclothes and=20
pants if we had them. There is a real need to go get warm, dry=20
clothes."<BR><BR>The volunteers ranged from teens to an 85-year-old, =
Shandera=20
said. The event seemed positive for volunteers and people from the =
homeless=20
population.<BR><BR>"We're happy because it seems like everybody is =
having a good=20
experience," Stewart said.<BR><BR><I>Contact Becky Shay at <A=20
href=3D"mailto:bshay@billingsgazette.com">bshay@billingsgazette.com</A> =
or=20
657-1231.</I> </DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>
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