Friday, February 19th was a very busy and eventful day. It was the first ever BOSS-sponsored Project Homeless Connect event! Project Homeless Connect (PHC) is a national model for one-day resource fairs aimed at bringing multiple service providers together under one roof to provide information and services homeless people need to stay alive, healthy, and maybe even achieve employment and housing.
PHCs have been held in cities around the country, including San Francisco and Oakland (by other organizers). According to the Alameda County 2015 Homeless Point-In-Time-Count, there are nearly 5,000 individuals identifying as homeless in Alameda County.
The BOSS-led event began when we were approached by Albany High School students, members of their Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA), a youth entrepreneurial leadership enterprise program. These emerging leaders approached BOSS asking about organizing a project to provide services and information. Once we started asking other agencies if they could help out, the event took on a life of its own.
Due to the extreme need in our community, hundreds of people began lining up for the event hours before it was scheduled to open, in the hopes of getting on the list for temporary hotel vouchers, and for the chance to speak to someone about dental and vision care, HIV Testing and many many other services.
Volunteers included people from throughout the community, BOSS staff, and nearly 100 high school youths. The event hosted over 30 organizations who provided services, information, and referrals.
Throughout the day, BOSS and other providers provided all kinds of on-the-spot assistance–from Covered California enrollments to health screenings to legal and housing information to clothing and giveaways. Food was provided by the BOSS Food Services Team.
It was, even with the challenges of unexpectedly high turnout and space issues, a tremendously successful event, one that BOSS would like to repeat eventually, incorporating all of the feedback and suggestions we received from this one.
Thank you to all the volunteers, donors, staff, and partners who made this event possible, and a huge special thank you to BOSS Director of Business Enterprise, Tes Ikharo, who led the planning!
(Top photograph: BOSS Food Services staff and trainees setting up food for the event)
Listing of organizations that contributed: