LINCOLN - Alcona County's 8th annual free "Day of Hospitality" through Project Connect ran efficiently with the help of a steering committee led by co-chairs Les and Julie Miller on Tuesday at the high school gymnasium.
Alcona Health Center has been a key element to Project Connect according to Lea Krause who organized the event for the first seven years. Services range from Tiger Health Extension, which had a display of information about the clinic which is located in Alcona Schools, to Michigan Connect located in the Alcona Health Center, an outreach that assists people with signing up for health insurance.
Alcona Health Center's dental program was also providing teeth cleanings with a mobile unit.
"Alcona Health Center has been a big promoter of this (Project Connect) and they have supported me in running it for the last seven years," said Krause.
Krause commended the Millers for having taken over the organization of the event.
"They have done just a fantastic job and I was there to answer any questions for them," she said.
Julie was grateful to the mentorship that Krause provided and indicated that she plans to continue to work on Project Connect next year.
"We know that we will continue. How could you not when you see the people lined up around the school," she said.
Les was also enthusiastic regarding Project Connect's reach.
"It's been a committee effort. My wife is very organized, she has forms and notebooks full of stuff. It's been going real smoothly and we are already thinking about next year," Les said.
People were lined up around the perimeter of the gymnasium to receive groceries, socks, undergarments and other necessities. By noon an estimate of at least 200 families had been to the event according to Julie.
"There haven't been any hiccups. A lot of pre-planning and a lot of our steering committee was here all day yesterday setting up. Today the steering committee is taking coffee and beverages to the agencies that can't get away. We have some men who are carrying stuff for overloaded people out to their cars," Julie said.
Roughly 75 door prizes were displayed, many of which were donated by local businesses with the remainder being purchased by the steering committee through donations and grant funding.
"Because of the generosity of private donors and grant money that we applied for we were able to go back to the Alcona County businesses and purchase gift cards from their businesses. All are $25 grocery or gas cards," Julie said.
South Shore Hubbard Lake had Volunteer Firefighter Emily Palmer at the event to not only share fire safety information with children including coloring books, but to let them try on firefighter uniforms and equipment too.
Palmer said that she has been serving for five to six years as a firefighter and has just recently graduated from Lake State University with two degrees in fire science and one degree in homeland security.
"I also work for Alcona Township and Barton City," she said.
Children also were able to view a fire truck that the Village of Lincoln brought to the school.
Alcona county residents can expect Project Connect to continue to be a resource next year thanks to the generous donors and this year's co-sponsors New Life Lutheran Church, Spruce Lutheran Church and Trinity Lutheran Church of Barton City.
Paige Edwards can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Paige on Twitter @pt_alpenanews.