Saturday, June 7, 2014

The HOPE for the Homeless First Annual Crawfish with Clergy Event Was Cookin'!

Steve and I attended a very special event last night:  HOPE Connections held their "first annual" Crawfish with Clergy event at their new facility on Levy Street.

I was just blown away by the facility and the people working there.  This could be such a fabulous thing for our area.  Be sure to read this article at Henry Harbor about the facility and their mission.  The bottom line is that HOPE Connections is a one-stop facility where the homeless in our area can go for everything from food and showers to job training and pet care.

The facility is still growing: they don't yet have the shelter in place but they do have that in progress and will soon offer shelter for both men and women.  Currently available at the Levy Street facility are computer stations, a women's room for quiet relaxation, phone use, and medical assessment just to start.  In the main room there are new couches and tables, computer work stations, a large screen television and art on the walls.  There are large bathrooms where patrons can shower and have privacy.  The drop-in facility is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00.  And while the center provides all of this great support and service, the goal ultimately of course is to help those in need find jobs, permanent shelter, and become self-sustaining.

Services include a comprehensive personal assessment, substance abuse and mental health screening, representatives from the VA come and help sign veterans up for services and housing through the VA, there are medical screenings and care, representatives to help register for governmental benefits, there is pet sheltering and pet therapy so that if you're homeless you don't have to give up your pet to come in for aid; there is also employment education and assistance, financial literacy and budgeting training, and of course assistance toward permanent housing.

What is cool about this place is that it is all under one roof (at least, once the shelter part of it is in place).   Once everything is in place a person won't have to go here for a meal and across town for medical help and across town for shelter.

These people are doing good work.

So we were tickled to death to buy two tickets to the Crawfish With Clergy fundraiser last night!  It was a big fundraiser for the center and was also to show appreciation for the area clergy who support them.

As soon as we walked through the gate we were offered slabs of cajun sausage and hot dogs.  There was another tent where you could get beer, wine, water, or soft drinks.  And in the back of the lot were the crawfish cookers and it smelled like heaven!

For our $25 we got all the crawfish we could eat, all we could drink, and all the hot dogs and sausage we could stand.  You can't be that with a stick.

The entire facility was wide open for tours.  Tables were set up both inside and outside for dining, all covered with bright red and white plastic tablecloths.  .

The event could not have taken place without these great sponsors:

And, of course there was live music!

Many members of the local clergy were in attendance such as Bishop Michael Duca of Shreveport, Father Paul from St. Paul's Episcopal Church, and Rev. Barbara Jarrell, among others.

After we stuffed ourselves with crawfish there were cupcakes and cakes for dessert.  Tiffany Shatto and Chelsie Liegey made this fabulous cake:

Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time and absolutely everyone was impressed with the facility and the work that is happening there.  I heard that 400 people came through the gate so that was an excellent turnout for a truly wonderful cause.

If you want to learn more about what HOPE Connections is doing be sure to read the Henry Harbor article; there is also a HOPE Connections Facebook page here.  Be sure to check out their website.

HOPE for the Homeless is a 501c3 non-profit and they can sure use your donations.  You can make a general donation or you can specify an area for your donation such as "Pet Shelter" or "Medical Screening."

This is a great organization doing wonderful things that could significantly help our community.

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