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sal dali

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Project Homeless Connect
March 14, 2009

Sal Dali It seems to me that the question on hand should not be whether Project Homeless Connect ameliorates or reinforces homelessness, but rather: Is this an adequate way to provide healthcare and other services to an underprivileged part of our society? We should focus our time on what Project Homeless Connect achieves and how it comes across. The experience that I was offered was one never to be forgotten. Having worked with this population before, I was quite excited to be there. I was immediately impressed with immensity of this undertaking; the Bill Graham Auditorium packed with services just for the homeless is a striking sight. There are a handful of organizations throughout the Tenderloin and San Francisco, that offer free or sliding scale healthcare services. On some levels, these services get used extremely well, but, at the same time, they don’t. There are many reasons that would prevent someone from wanting to, or being able to get services at our free clinics when they need them, for instance, people could have a hard time getting appointments. Many people need services immediately and when they reach out, they are given an appointment date for several weeks later. If they need some form of emergency services, they are lucky if they receive a free token to ride the bus to SF General. For one reason or another, most of those who do get appointments have a hard time showing up or following through at the right time. At project homeless connect, there is no right or wrong time as long as you make it there on the right day: almost everyone will be able to see a healthcare provider if they need help. Most importantly, there is a broad spectrum of services being offered, which is very impressive. There are nurses, doctors, podiatrists, obstetricians, HIV rapid testing, food, clothing, psychiatric services, identification services, housing services, and much more. I feel this is a great way to reach out to the homeless, because all of this is under one roof. In the clinical world, providing these services for someone could take weeks—with multiple appointments and several different locations. I commend Project Homeless Connect for making this whole process easier. It is great that a person can have so many needs met all in one place; I saw many people taking advantage of this. I talked to many people at the health fair that were very excited to be there and looked forewords to taking advantage of as many services as they could. There were also those that were just trying to get out of the rain for the day. Should this type of health care be offered to everyone? Probably, not. Health care should have more than one dimension. For many, going having a primary care provider works well. They make an appointment, they show-up, and they follow through. This has been a proven model. But there are many that the traditional healthcare model doesn’t help, as noted earlier. Project Homeless Connect is a new form of healthcare, or at least new to us in San Francisco, which uses a great system that is catering to the needs of those that have a harder time getting these services elsewhere. It is quite an innovative idea for this demographic. It is quite appropriate that we use this type of system and it has been long in the making. I hope in the future that healthcare evolves more and that this type of comprehensive care can be offered more often. Although I don’t know exactly what it takes to pull off a project like Project Homeless Connect, I can only imagine how complicated it is. For that, I take my hat off, especially to those that have probably spent hundreds of hours to ensure that this model works well. Judging by the quality of care that I saw, coupled with the excitement of those that were to receive it as well as the excitement of those providing, I walked away with the feeling that this model is really helping the clients. So when I asked myself: “Does this ameliorate or reinforce homelessness?” I couldn’t help but think that the question should be: “Is this helping people become healthier?” When I asked myself that, I thought, yes, this is really helping homeless people in more ways than one. Not only does this project help people with health-related issues, but it also lets many less fortunate people feel and know that they are important, and that many sincerely care about them and their wellbeing. I felt extremely proud to have been able to participate in this event, even if it was only on a basic level. I felt that all levels of participation are needed to make this event work properly. I can’t wait to participate in Project Homeless Connect again and look forward to being able to be a part of this helpful process.

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The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

amazing, people who truly care. It was an amazing experience.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

MY ROLE:
Volunteer & I helped disabled persons in line.