RENO — More than 60 providers offered their services to hundreds of homeless people at the Reno Events Center on Tuesday as part of the annual Project Homeless Connect, a nationwide event held in more than 200 communities each year.
The event provides individuals and families living on the streets free services such as medical care, social services, housing information and quality of life services such as haircuts and massages. Food, clothing and camaraderie also are available.
This is the fourth year the city of Reno has organized the event with participation largely coming from agencies belonging to the Reno Area Alliance for the Homeless.
“I know there are a hell of a lot of people here to help,” said Bob Kolliner, 71. “I am so damned impressed.”
Kolliner has been homeless for four years. He said he lost his retirement savings gambling, but hasn’t lost his sense of humor or sense of self.
“This town wasn’t built on winners,” he said wryly.
Kolliner was grateful to get his hands on some warm clothing and food. But he was most thankful for the haircut, he said.
Krista Lee, homeless coordinator for the city of Reno, said the luxury services are always popular.
“The kind of feel good stuff,” she added.
But there are so many needs for the area’s homeless.
“There’s always more to be done,” said Sandy Isham, spokeswoman for Volunteers of America, a nonprofit that operates the homeless shelter on Record Street in Reno.
Isham described Project Homeless Connect as a one-stop shop for badly needed services.
She also believes the event provides hope for the downtrodden.
“Fighting poverty can be a blast,” she said.