Independence Project Connect, a first-ever public health service event for underserved and uninsured people in Eastern Jackson County, is scheduled for 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at the Community of Christ Auditorium.
The free “one-stop shop” event, which will be in the lower level of the giant building on Walnut Street, has been organized by the Independence Hungry and Homeless Coalition, Community Services League, Health Care Collaborative of Rural Missouri and numerous local service providers, businesses, civic clubs, churches and citizens.
Services expected to be offered include: dental extractions; various health and sensory screenings; haircuts and manicures; flu shots and possibly other immunizations; free smoke detectors; Child Safe ID packets; GED completion assistance; and mattresses, sheets and other furniture. Vouchers for birth and death certificates and driver's license and photo IDs also will be available, as well as lunch and snacks.
Health Care Collaborative has been part of successful similar connect events this year in Buckner and Odessa. Amber Bauer of Community Services League said organizers modeled Project Connect after a similar event in Kansas City, just geared toward more suburban communities.
“It's super-exciting. We're pleasantly surprised with the (number of) groups and organizations that have rallied behind this,” Bauer said. “We've been getting the word out there and getting the backing (for services).
“There are so many organizations doing the work (of helping underserved people), but they just don't work collaboratively. This makes us feel like we're working on the same goal.”
Project Connect also will have information booths and enrollment opportunities for food stamps and food assistance programs; medical care coverage; CSL programs; hospice, palliative, nursing and in-home care; veteran's resources; housing programs and assistance; Salvation Army and Catholic Charities; Independence School District programs; Hope House and Women's Resource Center and United Way 2-1-1.
Bauer emphasized that Project Connect is not just for homeless individuals, but also for those who don't have enough or lack access to some basic life necessities.
“Just because you have a roof over your head doesn't mean some of these services aren't needed,” she said.
The organizers' goal is to provide “whole-person care” and break down possible barriers to accessing assistance. They anticipate serving more than 400 people.
“That's what this day is about,” Bauer said. “Connecting them to services they might not even know we have.”