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Project Connect to provide services for those in need

November 19, 2009
Sean Harkins

Project Connect will be holding an event for those in need of products or services from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 1 at the Thunder Bay Recreation Center.

Personal hygiene products, household products and clothing - among other things - will be available free of charge to anyone who shows up.

Services, including housing and job assistance, hearing and vision tests, hair cuts, and health screenings, also will be available for free.

United Way of Northeast Michigan Executive Director Germaine Stoppa said there is no income base required to attend the event, which is open to anyone.

"There's just a multitude of things that will be happening and everything is free," Stoppa said.

A free lunch will be provided at the rec center by the Alpena Senior Citizens Center.

Fact Box

What: Project Connect

When: Dec. 1, 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Where: Thunder Bay Recreation Center

Cost: Free

Stoppa said the products and services at the event are donated or funded through grant money.

One of the biggest benefits of the event, she said, is there are representatives from a variety of service organizations present. A person who comes in needing help with a specific issue can be pointed to a specialist in that field.

"It stops the red tape, going through all the paper work and other things," Stoppa said.

She said Project Connect has held six or seven events since launching in Northeast Michigan three years ago. The project is coordinated through the Northeast Michigan Coalition for the Prevention of Homelessness and Hunger and United Way of Northeast Michigan.

Each event typically serves 300-500 people, and she expects those numbers to rise with the area's economy continuing to struggle. She said Project Connect fills a need that ideally wouldn't exist.

"Unfortunately, this is one of those events that you want to put yourself out of business," Stoppa said.

Sean Harkins can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5688.



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