Watsonville Connect offers services for homeless

Berta Holguin wheels three of her dogs, with one of them folowing on foot, as she browses the service providers at Watsonville Connect on Wednesday. (Photo by Todd Guild/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — Hundreds of people came to the Veterans Memorial Building Wednesday, where they could get a California ID card, visit a dentist, talk about their legal troubles, get a haircut and grab a hot meal, among dozens of other services.

Now five years old, Watsonville Connect brings about 50 providers under roof, which gives homeless people — and those suffering from poverty — access to the services they need without having to travel to several different locations.

“We try to bring as many service providers in one place as we can, so the people who need them can access them in one location,” said organizer Jenna Gallant.

Berta Holguin wheeled three small dogs in a baby stroller, as another one tagged along behind. She largely came to the event for her pets, which she said needed flea treatment. She also got food for them, and a hot spaghetti meal for herself.

Participants could also get free cell phones and get a pair of eyeglasses.

The Watsonville event is the South County version of Project Homeless Connect, which began in Santa Cruz more than a decade ago.

The event was so successful that organizers brought it here, rather than bus hundreds of people to North County.

Connect events were created to bring several vital services under one roof, to benefit people whose days might otherwise be filled walking miles to find food, shelter and other vital services.

It is also a chance for service providers to connect with a population of people that too often live outdoors and is hard to reach.

Applied Survey Research sponsors the event, with help from numerous volunteers and the City of Watsonville.

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