Expo connects homeless with services

Drive generates more than 20,000 diapers for families grappling with domestic violence.

December 15, 2010|By Megan O'Neil,
  • Amber Martin, with 18-month old daughter Aayla Alonzo, talks with Family Promise of East San Fernando Valley Executive Director Jacqueline White about housing during the Social Service Program on Homeless Connect Day at the Glendale National Guard Armonrty. Martin has been homeless less than one year.
Amber Martin, with 18-month old daughter Aayla Alonzo,… (Raul Roa/Staff…)

Representatives from more than 50 nonprofit organizations and public agencies on Tuesday assembled at the Glendale National Guard Armory to provide a one-stop shop of resources for the homeless.

Homeless Connect Day, organized by the homeless shelter Path Achieve Glendale, is an opportunity to make contact with and assist those living on the fringes of society, organizers said.

"We are trying to connect with as many homeless people as we can by providing as many onsite services as we can," said Christina Hanna, a social services assistant at Path Achieve.

The annual event is scheduled to coincide with the start of the winter season, which is particularly hard on the homeless, said Natalie Profant Komuro, executive director at Path Achieve. Individuals living on the streets are vulnerable to hypothermia, chronic health problems, robbery and sexual assault, she said.

And for the chronically homeless, seeking assistance is hard.

"For many people, it is daunting to go into an office," Profant Komuro said. "Some of the folks that we help get a lot of anxiety about standing in line, they don't know how to fill out the forms; they become easily frustrated. So this is an opportunity for us to be really available to them in a way that is not threatening."


The event also marked the conclusion of a citywide diaper drive that generated more than 20,000 donated diapers. Organized by the Domestic Violence Task Force, a coalition of Glendale public officials and community leaders, the two-week drive attracted donations from dozens of churches, schools, community groups and families, Profant Komuro said.

The diapers were distributed to families on Tuesday.

Agencies represented at Homeless Connect Day included the Verdugo Jobs Center, AIDS Project Los Angeles, Neighborhood Legal Services and the Housing Rights Center. Nurses from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health administered free flu shots, and volunteers served breakfast.

Clients browsed through stacks of donated winter clothing, trying on shoes and jackets.

There was also a high-tech component to this year's event. Mark Horvath, a television-executive-turned-homeless man-turned-social-media-entrepreneur, was there to help clients create e-mail, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Horvath is the founder of the Invisible People project, a website dedicated to documenting on film the experiences of homeless people.

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