South Students, Faculty Volunteer at Project Homeless Connect
Posted on January 26, 2018 by Joy Washington
More than 100 of Mobile and Baldwin counties’ homeless residents received fresh haircuts, medical help and leads to possible employment, along with other resources, at the 2018 Project Homeless Connect event held on Friday, Jan. 26 at The Grounds in west Mobile.
Nearly 500 volunteers from the University of South Alabama collaborated with Housing First Inc., and numerous non-profit and local agencies that support the homeless.
South Alabama provides most of the volunteers for this annual service event and helps to manage the logistics for the set up and supports with an interdisciplinary focus that’s led by the USA Health and Wellness Committee, which meets and plans this event for about six months during the year.
“This is a big operation and the University of South Alabama plays a huge role in helping to make this event successful for our homeless population each year,” explained Dr. Margaret Moore-Nadler, chair of the Health and Wellness Committee and associate professor of community mental health in the College of Nursing. “We work with each community partner to make sure that this event serves the homeless with compassion and care. This is the heart of our mission at South. More importantly, volunteering at this event allows our students to get great experience for their future careers, while giving back to the community.”
"Volunteering at this event allows our students to get great experience for their future careers, while giving back to the community."
South’s students, faculty and staff worked with the community partners to provide medical, nutritional, counseling and organization support at Project Homeless Connect. The one-day, one-stop event included numerous services such as medical screenings, eye exams, haircuts and hair styling, clothing, meals, job leads, legal aid and other needed resources.
USA student William Crittenden of Gulfport, Miss., has volunteered with Project Homeless Connect since he was an undergraduate student at South. He graduated with his bachelor’s in biology, and he is now a fourth-year medical student in the College of Medicine.
“I have learned that being homeless can happen to anyone, and we must care about others with compassion,” Crittenden noted. “Also, people become homeless for different circumstances and situations. My experience with Project Homeless Connect along with guidance from several mentors has led me to want to practice family medicine.”
Sara Miller of Mobile is a second-year occupational therapy major at South Alabama. She served as an advocate helping the homeless at Project Homeless Connect.
“My job was to guide and assist the homeless client to the individual booths and exhibits,” she said. “It was very rewarding to help them get their identification and secure other information and services they needed. Volunteering has been very fulfilling for me.”
Crittenden has served as Moore-Nadler’s right hand in organizing and managing logistics this year, and he has been very involved with community outreach.
“I have done research on community engagement to better understand how to communicate and collaborate more effectively with our community partners,” he said. “I speak about why we need more partners and share my own story of how volunteering with Project Homeless Connect has changed my life for the better. I wanted to give back and help the homeless, but they have helped me along the way. They are so grateful for the services we provide, and they never complain.”
South Alabama supports this event through an interdisciplinary approach, which includes the colleges of Nursing, Allied Health Professions, Medicine, Arts and Sciences, and the Mitchell College of Business.
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