MORRIS COUNTY— Many dozens of county residents in need attended the annual Project Homeless Connect event today in Morristown, where they participated in the consumer-focused, one-stop event designed to provide an array of resources and support to those experiencing homelessness in our Morris County community.
Morris County Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo and Sheriff James M. Gannon offered words of welcome and support to the residents and the dozens of volunteers who gathered on a very rainy morning at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown.
They were joined by county residents Deana Moscatello and Anthony Justo, who offered powerful and moving, first-hand stories about their personal ordeals with homelessness.
“Homelessness in our county affects people from every walk of life. Most have multiple disabilities, including mental illness, substance use disorders or other chronic health conditions,’’ said Freeholder DeFillippo. “Homelessness affects our neighbors, our children, our veterans, and our families.
“That is why it is essential to provide this special day, today, when anyone struggling with homelessness can come and receive help and hope,’’ she added.
More than 40 community-based service providers participated in the event, providing resources free of charge to all who attended, including mental health information, substance abuse treatment, health screenings, housing information and veteran’s resources.
“Project Homeless Connect is a county-wide partnership designed to provide some of our community’s most adversely affected individuals with resources, referrals and support,” said Bob Davison, Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris, the lead agency coordinating the event.
“It is important for people facing such basic challenges as not having a roof over your head or knowing where your next meal is going to come from to be welcomed and treated with dignity and respect,” he added.
Project Homeless Connect began in 2004, when the city of San Francisco organized a special day dedicated to providing necessary services to the homeless. The Morris County Project Homeless Connect event began in 2008 under the leadership of the Mental Health Association and typically serves about 200 people each year.
Agencies, through donations collected throughout the year, gave out clothing, coats, hygiene products, backpacks, gift cards, food and more. They also offered free medical services, including free flu shots and health screenings for homeless residents.
“We may not be able to provide each of our attendees with an immediate solution to their problems, but we can let them know that Morris County is a community with a myriad of available resources and compassionate service providers who are there to assist them, not just on Project Homeless Connect Day, but throughout the year,” Davison said.