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When I was hired by the Calgary Homeless Foundation in 2009, I soon realized one of my major challenges was to take over managing a major event known as PHC (Project Homeless Connect). It meant coordinating over 40 homeless serving agencies, organizing a caterer to serve 1000 meals in two hours, finding professionals who would cut hair on a Saturday, locating and transporting several thousand pieces of donated clothing, purchasing several hundred toiletry items to give away, to recruit, assign job descriptions and orient approximately 100 volunteers and then to lay out a floor plan for an exhibition pipe and drape, table and chair company so all these elements would fit and flow smoothly together. And to be in and out of the event venue in a 24 hour period.
Days into the start of my role as Vice President of Social Enterprise, the CHF held its Project Homeless Connect event, where people struggling with homelessness can get a meal, haircut and a range of other services. It was a Saturday so I took my 12 year old daughter, Lauren, with me. We were cheerfully greeted at the entrance by a volunteer who gave us tickets for lunch and a map where we could find other services. Lauren whispered to me, "Dad, she thinks we are homeless." As we walked around chatting with people it was clear to both of us that you don’t always know who is struggling.
Project Homeless Connect 12 - May 28, 2011
In February 19, 2011, the CHF hosted Project Homeless Connect 11. Approximately 820 Calgarians experiencing or at risk of homelessness received services and supports from more than 40 agencies at the event, held at Suncor Energy Centre. Here are some of their stories, compiled by Scott Ranson, who volunteered to interview participants on the day.