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Project Homeless Connect gearing up to provide services to Wasilla’s homeless population

Volunteers, donations still needed
Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 5:41 PM AKST
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WASILLA, Alaska (KTUU) - In a little over two weeks the Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center in Wasilla will open its doors to house the annual Mat-Su Project Homeless Connect: a one-day, one-stop resource event designed to provide basic services for the city’s homeless population. The event provides services such as dental screenings, haircuts, employment assistance, clothing, food, toiletries, and more.

“A lot of times the services are all spread out across the city and it’s hard for people to get from one end to the other to get the services that they need. So the idea was to bring all of those services together in one spot,” said Ginger Bear, executive director of Family Promise Mat-Su and co-chair for Project Homeless Connect.

The one-day event takes place in communities all across Alaska each year.

In Wasilla, Project Homeless Connect will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 26, the day after the national Point-In-Time count — an unduplicated count on a single night of the people in a community experiencing homelessness. Point-In-Time counts serve as a means to establish the severity of homelessness in a community and help program administrators and policymakers track progress toward the goal of ending homelessness.

According to National Alliance to End Homelessness data, 1,949 people in Alaska were reported to be homeless on a given night in 2020, which is a 2.2% increase from 2019.

Project Homeless Connect was unable to take place at the Menard Sports Center in 2020 due to COVID-19 and was a smaller, non-collective event in 2021 because of the ongoing pandemic. Event organizers are still in need of volunteers and donations for this year’s event, and vendors who are able to provide services can also still sign up to take part in this year’s event by filling out an application online.

Bear says volunteers to put together toiletry bags or help with transportation from the Menard Sports Center are encouraged to sign up. Donations can be dropped off at Connect Mat-Su, Family Promise, or Valley Charities. Donations are not limited to just toiletries, items such as hand warmers, socks, and headlamps are also welcome.

“When you go camping in the winter, what do you need everyday,” said Bear. “That’s a good way to think of it.”

Some of the basic items needed include:

  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo
  • Soap
  • Lotion
  • Laundry pods
  • Chapstick
  • Nonperishable snacks
  • Bottled water
  • Toilet paper
  • Mini flashlights with batteries

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