Daisy Jones, the city of Hinesville’s Homeless Prevention Program coordinator, walked from table to table, ensuring each vendor was prepared before opening the doors of Bradwell Institute’s gymnasium at noon June 6.
Jones was ushering in the fifth annual Homeless Connect, a three-hour event bringing together service providers under one roof to help the homeless and needy families within the county.
Just before opening the doors, volunteers stood before the Restoration Church choir, marveling at the symphony coming from the youth singers.
Hinesville Mayor Pro-Tem Charles Frasier addressed the vendors and volunteers, thanking them for their continued support.
“We appreciate all that you do,” Frasier said. “This could not happen without all you volunteers giving up your time and all your services and effort to make this day a reality and make it successful.”
He said it is important to address the needs of the homeless and needy, because simply ignoring the issue doesn’t make it go away.
“We can’t pretend that it’s not here,” he said. “It is part of our community, and it is our responsibility to do what we can do to assist.”
Homeless Prevention Program assistant Randy Lopez welcomed all the vendors and volunteers and offered up a quick prayer before the group counted down from 10 and opened the doors.
Little by little, people walked in, were greeted warmly and were offered an array of goods and services to which they otherwise would not have access.
Derrick Brooks, owner of Jazzy’s Barber and Beauty Salon, brought his crew and offered free haircuts. Restoration Church members gave away socks and goodie bags. Free clothes, shoes, books and an array of counseling services were available as well.
Jones said her “street team” canvassed various areas around the city and county, hitting the known spots where some of the homeless tend to congregate. She said the prevention program made sure every community-oriented organization was made aware of the event so they could reach a large audience and meet as many needs as possible.