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Project Homeless Connect Omaha opens doors, hearts

Project Homeless ConnectLend a hand to the homeless population of Omaha at the ninth annual Project Homeless Connect Omaha on April 1, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Kiewit Fitness Center at Creighton University.

More than 400 volunteers and 600 homeless attend this one-day event, which serves as a “one-stop shop,” connecting homeless individuals to services including housing, healthcare and legal resources. Community volunteers called navigators are paired with a guest and assist him or her in filling out a basic take-in form, walk them through various service stations and create a comfortable environment for them.

Volunteers are still needed for all shifts, starting at 7:30 a.m. and concluding at 3 p.m. Register here by March 20. Navigators must be age 19 or older by April 1. Younger volunteers (age 13-18, under 16 with an adult) are encouraged to sign up for cleanup from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.

From the start of the event until long after it ends, the event has an impact not only on the homeless served but the volunteers as well. A volunteer from last year’s event recalled the positive effect it had on her and her client.

“My guest and I were fortunate enough to be interviewed for the World-Herald. Because our names were used, I received a phone call at home Saturday morning from a gentleman who had a job opportunity for my guest. I was able to get his phone number and left a message at the homeless shelter for my guest to call this potential employer. This was a really neat follow up action. Also, I was totally impressed with how polite and appreciative our guests were. They were very grateful for anything that was done for them.”

Training will be available for Navigators on March 22 from noon to 1 p.m. at the Harper Center auditorium on the Creighton campus. Additional volunteer training sessions will occur upon volunteer check-in.

Creighton University is a Jesuit, Catholic university bridging health, law, business and the arts and sciences for a more just world.