As of Tuesday, January 19, 2016
A week from today, organizations from around the county and some from the state will gather for a one-stop shop where people who need help can find it.
For the fifth year, Polk County Service Integration will host the Polk Community Connect event from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Valley Life Center Church, 1795 SE Miller Ave., in Dallas.
The event is for anyone in need, but focuses on helping the county’s homeless population, one that is often overlooked. Homelessness is an issue here, particularly when the nearest shelter is in Salem and very little public transportation is available to get from here to there. The Community Connect event serves as Polk County’s point in time homeless count.
To help people take advantage of the services offered, Cherriotts or CARTS will bus people to and from the event.
Direct services are available, including dental care, health screenings, pet car, bike repair and haircuts. People will be available to help with employment, housing, veterans, benefits, behavioral health, and resources for children and families. Breakfast and lunch will be served to participants.
Supplies are available, including camping supplies, warm clothing and food. Last year, tents and socks were popular items.
Everything is free and confidential.
The best part about all this is the atmosphere of complete acceptance and lack of judgement from those there to help. Everyone is made to feel welcome at Polk Community Connect, making it a wonderful way to find help — and giving people a great chance to volunteer.
Connections are made, not only between providers of these services — who so often are in silos, rarely communicating with each other — and between the people who need those services.
It’s not going to solve the homeless problem in Polk County, but it’s a good step toward treating them with dignity.