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Review for Project Homeless Connect, San Francisco, CA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I attended the Homeless Connect Health Fair on February 11th 2009, at the Bill Graham Auditorium, with my nursing class at University of San Francisco. I began my volunteer work for the day by escorting homeless clients to services that they had signed up for during their initial interview at the front of the auditorium. I was working at the section that helped escort clients in wheelchairs. My third client was a woman using a Project Homeless Connect wheel chair, so I was instructed to stay with her throughout her visit and return the wheel chair to the front. I helped her first sort out which services were most important to her. I escorted her to get a new ID, then a pair of reading glasses, and encouraged her to see the podiatrist. She had trouble dealing with all the noise and people, but I was able to keep her focused on attending to these few services. I think the help that she received was critical for her health and confirms how important PHC is for many of these people. The reading glasses alone could significantly increase the quality of her life. She seemed pleased to get more then one thing done versus going to a clinic and waiting even longer, or not being served at all, if she could find the services she needed at an available city-funded clinic. I think this model of having escorts to help them find those services they wanted is crucial. I was then asked to work in a medical section, helping Spanish-speaking people fill out short demographic forms. Most had been fully assessed and diagnosed from physicians in another section, and now they needed appointments to see clinics in the city and receive treatment. Some needed to sign up for San Francisco Health Plan/Healthy San Francisco to get insurance coverage for the services they needed and then sign up for the clinics. Many non-English speaking homeless clients just couldn’t manage this process on their own, and therefore the large venue with lots of volunteers were very important for them to complete the process. I don’t think this type of large event can replace smaller clinic care and the treatment they would get, but it did serve an important role in getting many basic needs met for people who are struggling to maintain their health with limited resources. If this type of large-scale health fair were available to all citizens of San Francisco, it could provide many basic health services that people without good insurance, or limited mobility and resources, would benefit from. Most of the clients, whom I spoke with, liked the busy atmosphere and felt supported by receiving services they just wouldn’t get on their own. Smaller clinics can provide higher quality, more extensive care, but I believe the Project Homeless Connect is very important first step for people who are not receiving health care, by addressing the bigger issues for the city about providing healthcare for all it’s citizens and the efficacy of doing so in larger venues, at reduced or no cost to participants.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the faces of the homeless people receiving services

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Continue to expand the busiest booths with more volunteers and professionals available to help.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the sense of truly helping people who truly needed the services and help finding them.

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

Friendly, helpful, motivated and ready to help.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

have more people in the busiest areas to provide faster services (like the DMV-ID section). Also they could provide hire doctors who could actually prescirbe glasses, and give more help on site.

Ways to make it better...

I could work more directly in the medical booths

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

funding to improve services and logistics of moving such large numbers of people efficiently through the range of services that they needed.

One thing I'd also say is that...

This organization is doing a fantastic job with the resources they have available to a very under-served segment of our population in San Francisco.

Should this review be counted for a specific campaign?

USF School of Nursing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?


Role:  Volunteer & Escort/Translator-helper in medical clinic sign-up area.