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Event helps homeless people

Feb. 21, 2013 @ 07:21 AM

HUNTINGTON -- On the streets for the past five years, 48-year-old Carl said he decided it was finally OK to ask for a little help.

"I'm not one to ask for a handout," said Carl, who requested that his last name be withheld. "But, I'd like to do better, get back on my feet, find a job. Being out here is hard on a person."

Carl joined others with similar stories on Wednesday at the Cabell-Huntington-Wayne Continuum of Care's fifth annual Project Homeless Connect at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena Conference Center. More than 40 organizations were available to make those at-risk of or currently experiencing homelessness aware of services that can help them return to self-sufficiency. The event featured a hot meal, entertainment, giveaways and representatives from programs offering haircuts, fingerprinting and basic health care assessments.

"We think we're filling an important need, reaching those who fall through the gap to let them know there are resources out there for them," said Megan Smith, a fourth-year medical student who works with Marshall Medical Outreach to offer health screenings monthly to the homeless population on the riverfront. "It's amazing how many people are here. We saw them lining up at the door and, of course, we've seen some of our old friends here today as well."

Project Homeless Connect comes on the heels of a point-in-time count of Cabell and Wayne counties' homeless population, a number that has seemingly dropped from 274 to 249 since the same count in 2012.

"We have more agencies this year than we've ever had, and the turnout is better than I expected," said Bob Hansen, executive director of Cabell-Huntington Coalition for the Homeless. "There are so many agencies in Huntington, and this is the first and only opportunity for all of them to be in one location and share their services in a one-stop venue."

Follow H-D reporter Beth Hendricks on Facebook or Twitter @BethHendricksHD.

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