On Sunday, Mack and I joined a few hundred other volunteers at the Shaw Conference Centre for Homeless Connect 4. Coordinated by Homeward Trust, Homeless Connect is a biannual event providing a “one-stop shop” of services for those without a permanent home – everything from foot care to employment assistance to haircuts.
Ready to rock
Many of the service providers from previous events were present, though a big gap (unfortunately because of the Mother’s Day clash) was dental services. New this time around were artistic touches, including a vibrant art display from iPulse, and a volunteer pianist, who helped lighten the ambiance among the sounds of busy chatter in the hall.
As this was our third time out (and my third in the capacity of a registration volunteer), we knew what to expect – the non-stop flow of guests for the first two hours, then inconsistent waves throughout the rest of the day. And though I’ve remained in the same role each time, I have to say I still enjoy it, and find it immensely rewarding.
The few minutes of sitting down with a guest, getting a mere snapshot of their situation, always reminds me of how fortunate I am to have a roof over my head. And with those guests who seem willing to share their story, I know I’m always torn between prolonging the interview for my own selfish desire to know more about their reality and getting them through the process so they can start accessing the services they need.
I’m happy to say that Homeward Trust also did a great job of streamlining the form this time, eliminating the long list of questions regarding awareness of different organizations that appeared in the previous version. Also, offering a sticker to those who preferred not to have their image captured by media was another great addition.
My registration space
At the end of the day, over 1250 guests came through the doors, more than the last Homeless Connect held in October. As Homeward Trust succeeds with achieving the targets in the Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness though, it is hoped that attendance numbers eventually start to decline (and with a great start, I am optimistic that this will happen).
Thanks again to Homeward Trust and Shaw for organizing such a valuable service to those less fortunate. I’ll be back again in October to help out.