The La Crosse Homeless Coalition held its first Project Homeless Connect event in hopes of bridging the gap between community services and the people who need them.
Every night there are people in La Crosse sleeping on the streets. Some struggle to put a roof over their heads because they have a hard time finding the right help.
Project Homeless Connect is a one-day event that allows people who are homeless or near homelessness get connected with the right kind of resources to help them get back on their feet.
La Crosse resident Scott Furan has been receiving services for the past four years and said he still learns about new services available to him.
About four years ago, Furan was homeless.
“It was pretty scary. I actually slept in my car for a few weeks,” said Furan.
Furan knew he needed some help, but he wasn’t sure where to go or who to ask.
“I have been kind of in the system for a long time, but there are a lot of resources that I don’t know about,” said Furan.
“Sometimes those who are experiencing homelessness don’t understand what is available to them within the community,” said Kim Cable, the housing and community services director with Couleecap. “We just hope to make it an awareness event. To provide people with a sense of what is out there for them in terms of resources,” said Cable.
At the event on Wednesday, people could get free haircuts, hygiene supplies and health check-ups. They could also get help with housing and job opportunities.
“We hear different stories every single day of the week about how people end up in a homeless situation,” said Cable.
However, with events that have different services all in one place, they also hear stories of success.
“With the right resources and the right kind of support, people can get back on their feet,” said Cable.
Now four years later, Furan has a plan.
“So then I will get out of the program and let somebody else take advantage of it,” said Furan.
But he isn’t going to far, Furan will continue to volunteer three days a week at the Salvation Army.
“I was given so much and I should give something back, so I try to do that,” said Furan.
He wants to show his appreciation to everyone who helped him along the way.
“Thank you, thank you and thank you because without them, I don’t know where I would be today,” said Furan.
Organizers of the event say it was a success. They would like to make it an annual event and get even more community members and services involved in the future.
If you would like more information about the services provided at the event or where you can go for help, here are a few local services you can contact for assistance. Couleecap is located at 2101 Victory Street, Suite C in La Crosse and the contact phone number is 608-782-4877. You can also contact the Salvation Army at 608-782-6126, which is located at 223 North 8th Street in La Crosse.