Family Time — Lindy Lange column mug

Get connected to local resources at Rochester’s Project Community Connect. Hosted by the Homeless Community Network of Olmsted County, the 11th annual event is designed to help connect individuals and families in need to local resources.

“There will be more than 70 nonprofit organizations, social service organizations and others attending,” said Melissa Brandt, HCN member. “The idea is to help individuals and families who are struggling, in particular those with housing instability, connect to local organizations and local resources. That said, the event is not just for individuals and families who are homeless — it’s for anyone who is looking for assistance.”

Part of a nationwide effort, locally, PCC draws between 300 and 500 attendees annually. Held at John Marshall High School and set up in an open-house format, participating organizations offer services in the areas of mental, physical and chemical health; employment assistance; housing; veterans; legal; insurance; and taxes.

“When you arrive, you’ll be asked to complete a short survey. Then you walk through the event, and, like a job or service fair, you stop at the booths you are interested in,” Brandt said. “There will be organizations like Crisis Nursery, Three Rivers Community Action, the Rochester Public Library and MNsure. Every year, Project Community Connect is the one time these organizations are gathered in one place on one day. If the organization you are talking to can’t help you, they can walk you across the gym and connect you to an organization that can.”

In addition to connecting with representatives from local organizations, families can enjoy a free lunch, a free haircut, get free HIV testing, free blood pressure checks, and more.

“We can help family members get photo IDs, there’s a shoe bus where participants can purchase very inexpensive shoes, there will be immunizations and flu shots,” Brandt said. “This is the HCN’s big event for the year. Many of the providers who participate are part of the HCN. Project Community Connect lets us come together to support these individuals and families we support individually on a daily basis.”

Lindy Lange is a licensed school social worker. Family Time appears every Wednesday. Up next: Help celebrate 100 years of back-to-nature fun at Whitewater State Park's Centennial Event: Winter Celebration.

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