Annual event offers one-stop shop for homeless

The latest numbers show more than 6,000 people are struggling with homelessness in Louisville.

LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) -- The latest numbers show more than 6,000 people are struggling with homelessness in Louisville. Wednesday, a group of people put their talents together to help drastically reduce those numbers. Homeless Connect is an annual event aiming to serve hundreds of homeless individuals by offering dozens of free resources.           

The Salvation Army is no stranger to helping those in need. Inside the building, you'll find many stories of service and success, with plenty of new chapters being added at Wednesday's event.

"It's a lot of work to do, and it can't be done by one agency. It's got to be done by everybody in a group effort. It's got to be done by a community,” Salvation Army Commander Major Roy Williams said.

More than 80 partners came together to help those who need it most.

"There's one thing they need and they come here and they say, oh, I didn't know that was there. They get that and they start lifting themselves up out of poverty,” Williams said.

The organizations offered everything from IDs to eye and ear exams to haircuts and clothes. There were selfless acts at every corner, even feet washing.

"You can tell a lot about a person's health by washing their feet and then they can direct them to the medical center,” Williams said.

Acts like that help to wipe away some of the struggle and stereotypes that come with homelessness.

"It's not all about people who just want to sit outside and lay around all day. There's homeless that want to help themselves every day,” Williams said.

Organizers said this event has the ability to reach many who won't seek it otherwise.

"A lot of people don't feel safe in the shelter, particularly veterans who may have had trauma,” Healthcare for Homeless Veterans supervisor Jamie Watts said.

Having everything set up in a one-stop shop makes a major difference when you’re used to anything but convenience.

"Anybody who has ever been homeless or been at the point where you're almost homeless knows you spend a lot of time waiting in lines, being in waiting rooms, and getting on a waiting list. So, our hope is that today you can get a lot of that done in one place and get moving faster toward getting a place of your own,” Coalition for Homeless Executive Director Natalie Harris said.

Veteran Jack Jones knows that all too well.

"I've been homeless off and on for several years, but at this time, I've been homeless for about three months,” Jones said.

Thanks to the VA, Jones has housing now and is getting ready to work again.

"I signed up for a library card so I can learn computers. I don't know computers yet, but they're going to teach me,” Jones said.

Homelessness can take away so much, but these acts of kindness can help life get back on track.

"It's amazing what they do and so far, I haven't met a negative person yet,” Jones said.

Organizers said the number of homeless has consistently dropped every year in Louisville for the last five years. They expect to serve around 600 people at this year’s event and hope that number continues to go down each and every year, eventually eliminating the need for the event altogether. 

Click here to learn how you can help the homeless. 

 

 

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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