THE HEART OF PROJECT CONNECT – A HEALTHY COMMUNITYMay 03, 2011
THE HEART OF PROJECT CONNECT – A HEALTHY COMMUNITY
Project Connect Brings Health Screenings to Disadvantaged Population
KALAMAZOO, MI – May 3, 2011
Diabetes. High blood pressure. High Cholesterol. These risk factors for heart disease and stroke are not unique to any income demographic. However, access to diagnosis, treatment and preventive care can be difficult for those struggling to get by with low or no income. The Project Connect event at the Kalamazoo County Expo Center on Wednesday, May 11 from 12 pm to 5 pm will offer free health screening for these conditions by Bronson Healthcare Group and Family Health Center (FHC) to these populations.
The homeless are particularly vulnerable to circumstances that can lead to or worsen medical problems. “Their diet is not healthy,” explains Daryle Robbson from the Kalamazoo Family Health Center’s downtown Healthcare for the Homeless clinic on Rose Street. “They eat whatever they have available to eat. Canned goods are often high in sodium. Working people can afford to buy salads and go to the gym. Homeless people can’t.”
Access to prescription drugs for hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes is also a problem says Robbson, who is the Project Connect planning team member in charge of coordinating health services at the event. ”With no insurance, maintaining prescribed medications can be frustrating,” he says. “If they come to me, I’ll do what I can to get their medications.” FHC welcomes donations of pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medicines to help meet clients’ requests.
The Family Health Center’s Healthcare for the Homeless physician and staff provides medical services on a sliding scale based on income. To qualify, clients should bring proof of income level or proof of no income, such as a DHS benefits statement.
Robbson sends his clients to the semi-annual Project Connect for the other available services, such as legal aid, housing and food assistance, financial resources, children’s needs, and educational and employment related help. “Our clients go to Project Connect to get access to other things offered in the community, not just within the two block radius of the clinic and shelter.”
Project Connect is collaboration between the Kalamazoo area government agencies, community based service and faith-based organizations, and local businesses. Begun by the Local Initiatives Service Corporation / Affordable Housing Partnership in 2009 to reach the homeless population, Project Connect is currently targeted towards any area resident in need of the offered services.
“Despite great organizations doing great work, there are huge unmet needs in our community,” says Michelle Schneider of LISC/AHP, whose recent Point in Time survey showed 408 people living in homeless shelters or on the streets of Kalamazoo on the night of January 26, 2011. “Project Connect is able to connect families and individuals with those crucial services they need to re-establish their stability or to prevent them from becoming homeless.”
In 2010, over 50 service providers helped 1,800 participants across two events. Project Connect organizers are hoping to reach at least 1,000 clients on May 11. Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell is scheduled to speak to the 60 service providers and 150-200 volunteers at the opening ceremony.
Free transportation shuttles will run from Ministry with Community and the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission. Guests can also pick up a transit pass to Project Connect valid on the City of Kalamazoo Metro bus system. Transit pass locations and service provider information is available on the website http://projectconnectkalamazoo.blogspot.com. Donations are also welcome.