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Community Rallies Together to Help the Homeless

November 22, 2010

EAST PALO ALTO, CA. – Hope for the homeless has a home here in East Palo Alto.

Last Thursday, Nov. 18, in a grassroots joint effort of non-profit, faith-based, and governmental agencies, more than 100 homeless men, women, and children found hope in an industrial park’s warehouse. A small army of volunteers was on hand to connect people to services, as well as provide free haircuts, resume help, bicycle repair, showers, flu shots and a hot meal.

Fixing bikes at homeless event.

Kent Sliverthorne (left) and Mark Korwald fix a bike for a homeless person at the EPA Connect II event.

The second annual event, called East Palo Alto (EPA) Connect, was born last year after a 2009 homeless census found that this San Mateo County city had a high percentage of homeless people. The survey also found that most were not aware of aid and benefits available to them. Instead of giving up or looking the other way, community leaders sought solutions.

One solution was the EPA Connect event, which organizers hoped would immediately connect homeless men, women and children directly with services to help them transition back to having a roof over their heads.

“The county came and asked us to do this a year ago, and we asked, ‘is that a trick question? Of course we do,’” said Pastor Paul Bains, president of Project WeHOPE, a non-profit that helps the community through various programs.

The event was so successful it was repeated again last Thursday, at Project WeHOPE’s headquarters, which also serves as a warming shelter when the weather turns cold. The warehouse space, which also acts as a gym for East Palo Alto youth, was lined with tables for a myriad of agencies.

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