"One-Stop-Shop" Serves Sedalia's Homeless
SEDALIA - Flu shots, haircuts, laundry and dental exams -- just a few of the services offered Friday at Project Homeless Connect Sedalia.
About three hundred homeless and disadvantaged participants came out to the annual event to receive tangible rather than referral-based products. Sixty-three vendors were on hand to help the participants find housing, employment and other opportunities. Participants could take showers, have a warm meal and visit with a doctor. Each participant left with an exit bag filled with groceries and hygiene products.
Jenni Miller, the community initiative coordinator for the Missouri Housing and Development Committee, called the event a "service fair, not a resource fair."
"The biggest struggle is that barrier where you're told at one place you need to go somewhere else and then you get frustrated. Here everyone can get everything in one place," said Miller.
This marks the third year that Project Homeless Connect has held an event in Missouri. The first event took place in Columbia in 2009. Last year's was held in Branson. Event organizers train each city to hold future event on its own. Both Columbia and Branson have continued to hold Project Homeless Connect events.
A month ago, single mom Felicia Nine didn't have a job or a place to call home, but now she's back on her feet. She volunteered at Friday's event, but also took time to pick up blankets, clothes and stuffed animals for her two children.
"There are people who have wound up in Sedalia and don't have anything. I was surprised to hear how many people are living under the stars," said Nine.
According to the Missouri Housing Development Commission, 27 homeless individuals and 30 homeless families live in the Pettis County area.