Lending a Helping Hand


There are between 50 and 100 individuals in Grand Island getting ready for bed tonight, only they are doing so on a park bench or a friend's couch.

It's a harsh reality, but there is hope. On Thursday, the community's largest organizations are joining hands to help the homeless in central Nebraska.

Forty different agencies, from doctors and dentists to social workers and therapists are setting up camp at the E-Free Church in Grand Island. Their mission is to help those who need it the most, a story for some that hits close to the heart.

"We're expecting 400 homeless people and have 170 volunteers," said a volunteer organizer preparing a group for Thursday. Looking around the room, you wouldn't be able to pick her out, but Yvonne Kornagay was here to help, because she herself is a recipient of support.

"I used to be homeless, so I know what that feels like," said Kornagay. "I've been there, done that."

Like a beacon in the darkness, Kornagay saw the light from the streets of Las Angeles to the safety of Hope Harbor. "We are living there at this time," she said.

Hope Harbor is part of the 40 agencies that make up Project Homeless Connect; they see women just like Kornagay every day, and even more on the brink.

"We're seeing historical numbers," said Melissa DeLaet, executive director of Hope Harbor. "We've never seen as many kids in the shelter and people physically in the shelter at one time, as we do right now," she said.

For them, Thursday can't come quick enough.

"We're going to have so many services available for the homeless, near homeless
individuals," said DeLaet. "Flu shots, tetanus shots, haircuts, foot care, depression screening," and the list goes on. It's all a part of Project Homeless Connect, all the services are free, and they're all in the same place on the same day – Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

It might be enough for some to get through the next few months, but Kornagay knows that's just the tip of the iceberg.

"The need is 365 days a year," she said.

Buses will be running every 30 minutes. Stops include Salvation Army, Wal-Mart North, Pump and Pantry (S. Locust) and Bosselman Truck Stop on HWY 281.

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