Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Project Homeless Connect

I had the pleasure of traveling to Akron with Jerry Lee, one of our enrollment specialists from Columbus. My normal travel partner was skipping out to see the Red Sox game in Cleveland so Jerry agreed to accompany me. On Monday, Jerry and I attended the Governor's Recovery Act Information Session and were able to generate some excitement for organizations to become benefit bank sites (Twenty-three individuals). The Ohio Benefit Bank will be hosting a one hour webinar session for this purpose.

If you are interested in signing up for our webinar you can call our toll free number at 1-800-648-1176.

We were then off to Project Homeless Connect the next day hosted at The Chapel near the University of Akron. This was one of the most organized events I have been to in a long while. Over 500 volunteers engaged with the homeless community to offer services. Individuals could come for a shower and a hair cut, sign up for supportive services, get food from a local pantry, receive lunch, and of course sign up for benefits with us.

Each client was offered doughnuts and coffee, participated in an "intake" and was assigned a chaperon to guide them to different booths/rooms for services. The chaperon was very helpful in navigating the maze of rooms, keeping track of paperwork and providing reminders for follow up. The main beauty of the chaperon system was the forming of relationships-- one on one with the clients-walking and talking together.

Michelle Long and Jerry Lee are pictured above next to the van. Michelle is a VISTA volunteer. She provides training to local Benefit Bank volunteers and was very helpful through out the day.

This was the first time we extended the awning for an event. It protected us from the rain and of course made our van look very chic. It only took us an hour of mopping up the rain in the van entry way to think--"We should extend the awning!" Good news is that we can be taught and lessons learned stick with us.

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