Las Vegas Sun

February 21, 2019

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Volunteers provide one-stop assistance to the homeless, needy

Project Homeless Connect

Tiffany Gibson

Johnathan Short from Memphis, Tenn. gets his hair cut by Maui Salon hairdresser Vickie McColl during the 17th annual Project Homeless Connect event Tuesday at the Cashman Convention Center.

Project Homeless Connect

People attend the 17th annual Project Homeless Connect event Tuesday at the Cashman Convention Center. Launch slideshow »

Impoverished Pets

Homeless and impoverished Las Vegas residents brought their pets to the Cashman Convention Center Tuesday for free veterinary care. The treatment was part of Project Homeless Connect, where people can go to recieve free food, clothing and health care.

More than 800 volunteers helped provide information and necessities to people in need during the 17th annual Project Homeless Connect event at the Cashman Convention Center on Tuesday.

Michele Fuller-Hallauer, continuum of care coordinator for the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition, said the purpose of the event is to provide as many services as possible under one roof.

“We have haircuts, dental and medical care, information areas, behavioral health, and this is our first year to have an unaccompanied minors section,” Fuller-Hallauer said. “It’s been a phenomenal success.”

Kelly Robson, director of HELP of Southern Nevada Youth Center, said the center took in four young adults because of the event.

“A lot came to the table and were getting information, but some are still couch-surfing and not ready to come in,” Robson said. “But it’s very satisfying and rewarding because for every kid that takes information, there’s a little hope.”

The event also provided veterinary care for animals.

Kelly Salyer of Clark County Parks and Recreation said a number of people brought their animals to the event to be cared for by student volunteers from Pima Medical Institute in Las Vegas. She said the animals had their nails clipped and received shots.

Fuller-Hallauer said the attendance for the event this year has been lower than previous years. She said she’s happy about that because lower attendance means the event is helping people get back on their feet.

The United Way joined with the Nevada Homeless Alliance to help get more people involved.

United Way Volunteer Director Robin Kelley said the Volunteer Center of Southern Nevada wanted to help by recruiting volunteers.

Volunteer Erik Foisy from the Army National Guard signed up through the United Way Volunteer Center and worked at the Miles for Smiles dental care booth. He said the program was helping people with their pain, not doing extractions or surgeries.

“People are super grateful,” Foisy said. “One lady had been waiting since midnight just to come see us.”

People also lined up for haircuts. Johnathan Short of Memphis, Tenn., said he had just gotten back from a tour in Iraq and is appreciative of all the services the event provided him.

“This event helps keep me focused and to do the right thing,” Short said. “It’s a plus to be able to relate to people and tell them what’s going on in your life.”

Vickie McColl, a volunteer hairdresser from Maui Salon, said she wanted to help cut people’s hair because she is fortunate to have a job. “Plus, getting a hair cut makes people feel better,” she said.

Robert Greiner of Las Vegas said he came for eye care.

“I came to this event because I’m not working and am going to be homeless pretty soon,” he said.

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