Community Collaborates, Heartwarming Hard Work Helps Homeless at Salvation Army’s “Connect Day”

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By BRANDON VILLALOVOS

5:18 am | October 11, 2017


Over 200 homeless people received free medical evaluations, haircuts, and other critical services Tuesday as part of the Pasadena Salvation Army’s ninth annual Homeless Connect Day where dozens of local health and non-profit organizations volunteered their time to help the less fortunate access resources that seem out of reach while getting by on the streets.

“What we’d like to do is provide them an opportunity to get all of the services without having to travel to ten different places. This is where they can get it all at once,” said Johana Hirasuna, Director of Social Services at The Salvation Army Pasadena Tabernacle Corps.

“I know that a lot of these services that they receive today are not going to end their homelessness today,” said Hirasuna.

The Salvation Army and participating sponsors offered over 40 service providers, including a Citation Clinic, Department of Motor Vehicles identification card station, Hepatitis A vaccinations, veteran services, and more.

Approximately 100 Azusa Pacific University student volunteers rose to the occasion to assist the homeless people at “intake,” where they evaluated specific needs to best accommodate their visit and direct them to appropriate stations.

Each participant was provided with a student volunteer to aid them throughout the process and guide them through the facility.

“We have a lot of small ratio of volunteers to consumers so that they really feel that connection and really feel like somebody is providing them the time to get to know them, to get to provide the services that they need,” explained Hirasuna.

Homeless Connect Day evolved from years of rather unsuccessful outreach efforts, according to Hirasuna.

“In the past, we did this event where it was more of a resource fair. ‘Here’s a flyer, here’s a pamphlet’,” Hirasuna explained. “We know that people wouldn’t get connected.”

Nine years later, Homeless Connect Day now sees up to 250 homeless individuals who are directly seen by medical and social service professionals in-person and are more likely to seek services thereafter.

“Now we know that if an individual comes in and actually meets the individual that they later can connect with at their office, actually get started with an application process then it will lead into long term services and hopefully actually find solutions to their problems, versus just getting a pamphlet and they may never really connect with the services,” said Hirasuna.

Participants wrapped up their visit with a hearty lunch prepared by the the Pasadena Firefighters Association.

“[Seeing] people’s faces when they get out of here, just feeling clean and kind of feeling like that dignity that they deserve is being given to them, means the world and if that’s what we can accomplish today we are very satisfied,” said Hirasuna.

For more information about the Salvation Army, go to www.salvationarmyusa.org.