A well oiled machine greeted us as we were shown around Project Connect, a yearly resource fair that connects residents to needed community services. Residents are provided a guide that gets to know the individual or family personally in order to connect them immediately to services that can help with housing, employment, health, banking, family services like childcare subsidies, and even on site basic needs like haircuts, cleaning supplies, and food boxes.
This personal service and the ability to complete multiple tasks in one place immediately solves a number of problems for residents. Having to take off work, lack of transportation, and financial issues can stand in the way of getting help that is available normally. This event makes it possible for people to access five, ten, or even more services all at once. This year there were over 60 resources available.
Shannon Roman of Roman’s Beauty Academy in Front Royal was onsite giving haircuts, something she and her students do regularly to give back to the community and gain experience. One participant said “it has made me feel like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I really enjoyed talking to everyone and finding the assistance I needed.”
Project Connect 2023 Highlights:
115 – Vision Screenings (Winchester Host Lion’s Club)
61 – Haircuts (Roman’s Hair Empire & Beauty Academy)
60 – Blood Pressure Screenings (Valley Health)
60 – Food boxes distributed (CCAP)
50 – Dental Exams (Dental Clinic NSV)
11 – Naloxone Trainings (Lord Fairfax Health Dept.)
Senior Director of Community Investment at United Way of Northern Shenandoah Valley Jennifer Hall remarked, “It is truly amazing to see how this event has grown over the years. It wouldn’t be possible without collaboration from dozens of nonprofit partners and businesses who have embraced our vision of bringing services under one roof.”
More than 500 people attended this years event which was the 4th annual. The team from United Way is working on recreating the event in the further counties of the Shenandoah Valley in order to help more residents in their local area. Learn more about volunteer opportunities or how your non-profit or business can get involved: UnitedWayNSV.org