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Spreading The Word for Project Homeless Connect

Homeless Virgin Islanders can find free health care, clothes and haircuts at three upcoming Project Homeless Connect events – and volunteers, donations and referrals are still needed to make each a success.

“It’s kind of like a one-stop shop, where they get everything under one roof,” V.I. Health and Human Services Department spokeswoman Monife Stout said of the project, which connects homeless people to showers, meals, spiritual counseling, entertainment and other services.

Project Homeless Connect will take place the next three Fridays. They include Oct. 14 at the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center on St. Thomas, Oct. 21 at Nazareth Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cruz Bay on St. John, and Oct. 28 at Rudolph Shutlebrant Market Complex on St. Croix. The events start at 9 a.m. and last through the afternoon.

Health and Human Services and United Way of St. Thomas-St. John have co-sponsored the project for the last five years. Thanks to Innovative’s sponsorship, this is the first year it will take place on St. John, Stout said.

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Volunteers are needed to escort homeless people to different agencies’ tables, as well as to provide services such as haircuts and massages. All volunteers must attend a short orientation session. Sessions are scheduled for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week on St. Thomas; call the United Way at 774-3185 for more information.

Volunteers who wish to help on St. Croix should call Angeli Ferdschnieder at 773-1404. To volunteer on St. John, call Celia Kalousek of the St. John Community Foundation at 643-0019 or 693-9410. Any other questions can be directed to Stout at 774-1166, ext. 4109.

Donations of men’s clothing are especially needed on St. John, as 40 of the 45 documented homeless people on the island are men, Kalousek said. Men’s clothing can be dropped off at Kilroy’s Laundry in Cruz Bay, she said.

While a 2010 count from the Methodist Training and Outreach Center registered 395 shelterless people across the territory, those are only the folks that the monitors could find sleeping on the street, in graveyards or on the beach, United Way of St. Thomas-St. John Executive Director Cherise Creque Quain said.

Of that number, 227 are considered “chronically homeless”; that is, they have lived without shelter for two years or more, Quain said.

Many more people throughout the territory experience intermittent homelessness, Quain and Stout said. An estimated 90 percent of the territory’s people without shelter are not chronically so; rather, they are “couch-surfers” who stay with friends or relatives until they’ve worn out their welcome and have to move on, Quain and Stout said.

“Those are the hidden homeless, and we want to make sure that we invite everyone,” Quain said. “Encourage them to come, or come and get information and take it back to them.”

The events will be heavy on resources, help and empathy and low on judgment, Stout said.

“We’re not there to pass judgment on anybody,” Stout said. “We’re there to offer assistance.”

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Homeless Virgin Islanders can find free health care, clothes and haircuts at three upcoming Project Homeless Connect events – and volunteers, donations and referrals are still needed to make each a success.

“It's kind of like a one-stop shop, where they get everything under one roof,” V.I. Health and Human Services Department spokeswoman Monife Stout said of the project, which connects homeless people to showers, meals, spiritual counseling, entertainment and other services.

Project Homeless Connect will take place the next three Fridays. They include Oct. 14 at the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center on St. Thomas, Oct. 21 at Nazareth Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cruz Bay on St. John, and Oct. 28 at Rudolph Shutlebrant Market Complex on St. Croix. The events start at 9 a.m. and last through the afternoon.

Health and Human Services and United Way of St. Thomas-St. John have co-sponsored the project for the last five years. Thanks to Innovative's sponsorship, this is the first year it will take place on St. John, Stout said.

Volunteers are needed to escort homeless people to different agencies' tables, as well as to provide services such as haircuts and massages. All volunteers must attend a short orientation session. Sessions are scheduled for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week on St. Thomas; call the United Way at 774-3185 for more information.

Volunteers who wish to help on St. Croix should call Angeli Ferdschnieder at 773-1404. To volunteer on St. John, call Celia Kalousek of the St. John Community Foundation at 643-0019 or 693-9410. Any other questions can be directed to Stout at 774-1166, ext. 4109.

Donations of men's clothing are especially needed on St. John, as 40 of the 45 documented homeless people on the island are men, Kalousek said. Men's clothing can be dropped off at Kilroy's Laundry in Cruz Bay, she said.

While a 2010 count from the Methodist Training and Outreach Center registered 395 shelterless people across the territory, those are only the folks that the monitors could find sleeping on the street, in graveyards or on the beach, United Way of St. Thomas-St. John Executive Director Cherise Creque Quain said.

Of that number, 227 are considered “chronically homeless”; that is, they have lived without shelter for two years or more, Quain said.

Many more people throughout the territory experience intermittent homelessness, Quain and Stout said. An estimated 90 percent of the territory's people without shelter are not chronically so; rather, they are “couch-surfers” who stay with friends or relatives until they've worn out their welcome and have to move on, Quain and Stout said.

“Those are the hidden homeless, and we want to make sure that we invite everyone,” Quain said. “Encourage them to come, or come and get information and take it back to them.”

The events will be heavy on resources, help and empathy and low on judgment, Stout said.

“We're not there to pass judgment on anybody,” Stout said. “We're there to offer assistance.”