In this 2016 file photo, volunteer hairdresser Joy Conner (left) curls the hair of Alison Alley during Project Homeless Connect, an event at which local individuals and organizations provided information and services to the Kenai Peninsula community members experiencing homelessness. This year’s event will once again provide haircuts, massages, food, and veterinary care on Jan. 24 at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion)

In this 2016 file photo, volunteer hairdresser Joy Conner (left) curls the hair of Alison Alley during Project Homeless Connect, an event at which local individuals and organizations provided information and services to the Kenai Peninsula community members experiencing homelessness. This year’s event will once again provide haircuts, massages, food, and veterinary care on Jan. 24 at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion)

Connecting the community with care

Project Homeless Connect isn’t just about a haircut and a shower.

It’s about creating an environment where those experiencing homelessness — who can often feel discarded, unwanted or unloved — feel like they matter, Jodi Stuart, media chairperson for Project Homeless Connect, said.

“You matter and we care about you today,” she said. “And we care about you more than you think anybody probably does.”

Happening at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Wednesday, the event is a collaborative effort of state and local social service organizations, nonprofits and volunteers to reach out to those experiencing homelessness and connect them to a number of housing, support and quality-of-life resources.

Volunteers “show up in droves” to help at the event, not just to help connect attendees to services, but to provide emotional support and help, Stuart said.

“They’re there to make sure that everybody has someday they can talk to,” Stuart said.

Approximately 30 vendors will provide help during the event and offer everything from hair cuts, massages, medical and veterinarian care to resources on substance abuse, housing, veterans support, job and public assistance.

“Anything and everything under the sun,” Stuart said.

Attendees will also have access to clothing, food, phones, showers and laundry facilities.

Now in its seventh year, the annual project is organized as a partnership between the Kenai Peninsula Continuum of Care — a network of local organizations who provide services to the homeless — and the Kenai Peninsula Project Homeless Connect Sub-committee.

While the number of people reached at the event has been about 200 for the last three years — 189 people in 2015, 213 people in 2016 and 203 people in 2017 — the number of newcomers to the event increased significantly last year. That could mean the project is getting the word out more effectively, Stuart said, or that the need is greater.

Stuart said the coalition has been handing out business cards with details of the event to law enforcement and leaving fliers at public spaces like the library to let people know about the event. Throughout the day on Wednesday, Alaska Cab will provide shuttles or those needing a ride to the event.

Project Homeless Connect will take place between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Wednesday at the Soldotna Sports Complex.

Reach Clarion reporter Erin Thompson at erin.thompson@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Alaska Rep. David Eastman, a Republican from Wasilla, sits at his desk on the Alaska House floor in Juneau, Alaska, on March 5, 2020. Alaska lawmakers are discussing whether to sanction Eastman who is also a member of the Oath Keepers far-right paramilitary organization according to the Anchorage Daily News. Eastman, who is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, confirmed with the Associated Press, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, that he joined the Oath Keepers a little over 12 years ago, “along with 38,000 others who have committed to honoring oaths we have taken.” (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)
State lawmaker could be sanctioned over Oath Keeper ties

Eastman was identified as a “life member” of the Oath Keepers last year

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
As cases surge, public health officials contemplate how to live with virus

Contact tracing and data collection will have to be reworked if COVID is here to stay

Upper Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone can be seen on this map provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Image via fisheries.noaa.gov)
Soldotna approves filing of EEZ lawsuit brief

The lawsuit seeks to reopen commercial salmon fishing in the Upper Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone

University of Alaska Interim President Pat Pitney, bottom left, spoke to UA students in a virtual forum on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, and was joined by several UA administrators including UA Southeast President Karen Carey, bottom left, and UA Anchorage Vice Chancellor Bruce Schultz, top left. At top right, an American Sign Language professional provides translation services. (Screenshot)
UA President: University has turned a corner on funding

System sees modest increase in budget for first time in years

Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer; Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna; Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak and Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, spoke to reporters Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, immediately following Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s State of the State address. Members of the Senate Republican leadership said they appreciated the governor’s optimism, and hoped it signaled a better relationship between the administration and the Legislature. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Lawmakers welcome tone change in governor’s address

With caveats on financials, legislators optimistic about working together

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID deaths, hospitalizations climb statewide

The total number of statewide COVID deaths is nearly equivalent to the population of Funny River.

A fisher holds a reel on the Kenai River near Soldotna on June 30, 2021. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Restrictions on sport fishing announced

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced summer sport fishing regulations Wednesday

Community agencies administer social services to those in need during the Project Homeless Connect event Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘It’s nice to be able to help folks’

Project Homeless Connect offers services, supplies to those experiencing housing instability

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce attends the March 2, 2021, borough assembly meeting at the Betty J. Glick Assembly Chambers at the Borough Administration Building in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Former talk-show host to manage Pierce gubernatorial campaign

Jake Thompson is a former host of KSRM’s Tall, Dark and Handsome Show and Sound-off talk-show

Most Read