Various agencies and orga­ni­za­tions from the com­munity gathered for Project Connect in 2019. Julia Mullins | Col­legian

Project Connect brought together 27 local agencies and 208 com­munity members in 2019.  

As a project of the Hillsdale County Con­tinuum of Care, Project Connect helps indi­viduals and fam­ilies find the care and ser­vices they need. 

This year, Project Connect will take place on Thursday, Jan. 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the gym of Hillsdale Free Methodist Church. 

Clint Brugger, who serves as the chair of Hillsdale County Housing Con­tinuum of Care and the county manager at the Com­munity Action Agency said the main goal of Project Connect is to connect people in the com­munity with resources. 

“Project Connect was designed as a one-stop shop for those expe­ri­encing a housing crisis or strug­gling with poverty to get con­nected with local resources,” Brugger said.  

Project Connect pro­vides people with resources and infor­mation about housing, employment training, veteran ser­vices, health ser­vices, food assis­tance, utility assis­tance, mental health ser­vices, legal ser­vices, edu­cation, youth ser­vices, and senior ser­vices. 

Brugger said there should be more agencies at Project Connect this year as more orga­ni­za­tions have decided to get involved. LifeWays Com­munity Mental Health of Hillsdale, which pro­vides people with resources and ser­vices about mental health, has attended Project Connect in the past and will be there again this year. 

Rebecca Calkins, public rela­tions coor­di­nator for LifeWays, said Project Connect is great for face-to-face inter­ac­tions with members of the com­munity who may not know about LifeWays. 

“There’s a lot of people with mental illness who end up homeless, and we want to help those people,” Calkins said. “We want them know that recovery is pos­sible.” 

Some par­tic­i­pating orga­ni­za­tions will provide com­munity members with children’s pajamas, winter hats, mittens, laundry soap, haircuts, and various hygiene items until sup­plies runs out.

Com­munity members will also have the oppor­tunity to eat a hot meal at Project Connect. 

Brugger said the best part of Project Connect is to be able to see the dif­ferent service orga­ni­za­tions working together to help people who are moving toward self-suf­fi­ciency. 

“I’m very pleased with how the com­munity comes together to focus all our attention on people who are strug­gling to make ends meet,” he said.