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  • Writer's pictureAaron Axford

Community Connect Gives People What They Need

This past Thursday, October 25, I experienced my very first Community Connect event at the Damiano Center. If you could’ve seen how exhausted the staff and volunteers were after, you would only begin to understand how much planning, coordination and hard work went into the day. Guests started to pour into our doors before the event even started. My job was to check in volunteers and walk around during the event to help guests and organizations.

There were so many volunteers that we quickly had no positions to be filled! The event was a well-oiled machine that couldn’t stop and it was so amazing to watch it unfold. There were many services for guests: people to cut their hair, free winter coats and other gear, flu vaccines, warrant resolutions, IDs and birth certificates, and the opportunity to participate in the Wilder Housing and Homelessness study and VI-SPDATS, which help people who are homeless to get housing. We wanted to give our guests many services that they otherwise may have difficulty or inability to access. Not an inch of space was unused and the guests certainly used all of the services that were offered. At Community Connect, we offered all of these services completely free of charge:

  • 101 hair trims

  • 105 Wilder surveys

  • 450 coats

  • 40 flu vaccines

  • 22 birth certificates

  • 15 IDs

  • 40 VI-SPDATs completed

  • Resolution of 31 outstanding warrants

  • Hundreds of hygiene items, other winter gear, and socks

Volunteers help out in the Free Clothes Store

Community was featured on Fox 21 News later that night.

Community Connect was started back in 2006. This year, the event was planned in collaboration with the Salvation Army and Loaves and Fishes. We were completely blown away by the numbers after we tallied them up at the end. Seeing guests with a smile on their face after they just got a new haircut, their own ID or birth certificate and clothes that will help them bear Duluth’s grueling winter is why we love doing what we do. An event like this gives those who are homeless or living in poverty the peace of mind they need to not only live their lives comfortably, but improve them as well.

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