Homeless Coalition looks to reboot with Connect Day

Shopping carts and mattresses in the Cottonwood area were photographed at the end of January 2015 during the area’s homeless count. VVN file photo by Vyto Starinskas

Shopping carts and mattresses in the Cottonwood area were photographed at the end of January 2015 during the area’s homeless count. VVN file photo by Vyto Starinskas

VERDE VALLEY -- Efforts to support the needs of the homeless took a hit recently when a brawl left one man dead in the Cottonwood Walmart parking lot. The Gaver family was said to have been camping in the lot for several days before the incident.

The Cottonwood store now has formally closed camping there. A Verde Valley homeless support group is planning an annual intervention activity.

During Wednesday's spring meeting of the Verde Valley Homeless Coalition at Spectrum Healthcare, group organizer Eliza Louden of Catholic Charities suggested a local effort similar to what the Veterans Administration does with its annual Homeless Stand Down, by providing a "safe retreat for units returning from combat."

During the Homeless Stand Down gatherings across the country, the VA provides services for clothing, hygiene and enrollment and similar services for homeless vets. Locally, the Stand Down is held in September.

Louden says an annual service provision opportunity called "Project Homeless Connect" has been held in Flagstaff. She believes a similar one-day event could be planned in the Verde Valley.

It is a form of "intervention" for one day, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. She said Project Connect could begin small and grow from there. "If successful, the endeavor could be a catalyst to provide further services or other small events."

All participants of Project Connect would need is identification. Louden suggested the effort could get a Social Security representative, provide haircuts, VA Enrollment, have a contact for birth certificates, glasses, clothing and food boxes.

Old Town Mission, St. Vincent de Paul, NAZCARE as well as faith-based organizations and other service organizations would be invited to join in and get the community involved.

Other participants suggested the bus service could also be contacted to help bring participants from Sedona.

Louden announced that a planning committee meeting will be held at Catholic Charities at 736 N. Main St. in Cottonwood at 10 a.m. April 27. Anyone interested in helping out should attend.

Shelter has always been a chronic need in the Verde Valley and a perpetual talking point.

--contact jhutchinson@verdenews.com or @_jhutchinson on Twitter

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