April 27, 2011 was a brutal reminder that one’s home can be taken away in the blink of an eye; families and individuals can be made homeless with little warning. April 27 gave tangible proof that life is fragile and that we can not predict when bad things are going to happen to good people. The days after that have been reminders that Alabamians are generous people. The days following April 27 have been reminders that Alabamians volunteer their time, their money and their talents to help not only friends and neighbors, but people they don’t even know.
April 9, 2011 didn’t bring a tornado ripping through Birmingham. April 9 did not make national and international news. However, April 9, 2011, gave tangible evidence that Birmingham has many people who have been homeless a long time and that the community is stepping up to help end homelessness as we know it today.
More than 900 generous Birmingham people volunteered their time and talents to serve more than 800 people experiencing homelessness. Those generous volunteers thought they were giving of themselves to help others…to assist a stranger in need. But many of those giving volunteers learned big life lessons that day, April 9, 2011 when Project Homeless Connect took place at the Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama.
For Kim, it was surprising to learn how many female clients, women like her, had no place to call home. For Holley, it was how young some were. It was seeing the kids, children like the pre-school aged kids she worked with, and for the first time, actually seeing them as possibly living in the limbo of homelessness. Alex called his parents and apologized for being an ungrateful child growing up. A conversation with Alex’s mother confirmed that Alex was not an ungrateful child…he just had no awareness that his life was blessed with material things. Project Homeless Connect taught Alex about gratitude.
People living in shelters and under bridges came to Project Homeless Connect in droves. They lined up early to see if there was something…anything… available to help them repair their shattered lives…For Angela, Project Homeless Connect was more than pro bono legal help and prescription eye glasses. It was a way to clear something that had been hanging over her head for years and a way to be able to see how to complete a job application; it was a way out of homelessness! For Victor it was more than a Social Security card and State ID. It was reaching a goal he had set. It was a new beginning for his life, and it was a way out of homelessness.
The goal of Project Homeless Connect is to change lives– the main focus, of course, being to eliminate many barriers to leaving homelessness at once. But another focus of Project Homeless Connect is to change volunteers and participants. It is an opportunity to change our understanding of fellow citizens we might not always think about on a daily basis. It is a chance to change our perception of what we are capable of accomplishing with teamwork. Project Homeless Connect is a way to change minds so that together we might change the state of homeless in Birmingham.
For the fourth year Project Homeless Connect met its goal of changing lives because over 800 clients received services. This is in no small part due to the work of more than 900 volunteers, countless donors, and almost 60 agencies, collaborators, friends, etc. This is because of you.
Thank you. Everyone has played an important role and without you, Project Homeless Connect
would be impossible.
Mental Health Counseling
28 Counseled and Referred
73 Screened, 77 Extractions,
55+ Dental Care Vouchers Distributed
115 Pairs of Prescription Glasses Issued
State IDs Issued
Special Thanks to:
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Iota Phi Chapter
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Omicron Omega Chapter
Safehouse of Shelby Co.
Stand up for kids
Vestavia Hills United Methodist
Dept of Youth Services/ Mayors Office
Veterans Administration Homeless Work
Veterans Administration Outpatient Services
Veterans Administration Medical Services
God’s Foot Soldiers
New Bethlehem Baptist Church Homeless Ministry
I Can See, I Can Read Ministry
Three Hots and a Cot
Birmingham Baptist Association
Birmingham Healthy Start Project
Lawson State Community College
UAB Nursing Students
Cooper Green Mercy SW Dept
Birmingham AIDS Outreach
JBS Mental Health Authority
JCDH Dental Services
JCDH Communicable Disease Dept.
Cahaba Valley Health Care
Schaeffer Eye Center
Birmingham Health Care
Charter Communications Hot 107.7
Hands on Birmingham Junior Board
United Way Central Alabama
UWCA VITA Tax Assistance
AL Dept of Public Safety
Social Security Administration
Stand up for Kids
Cumberland Law School
Volunteer Lawyer Program Bham
Alabama Legal Services
Legal Aid Society Birmingham
The Church at Brook Hills
Trinity United Methodist Church
Cathedral Church of the Advent
Faith Chapel Christian Center
City of Birmingham
Boutwell Auditorium Staff