Project Connect in need of more volunteer hosts for next week’s event

BGSU art student Kyle Mears checks out a Project Connect t-shirt that's just been printed.

By DAVID DUPONT

BG Independent News

The  volunteers’ t-shirts are made, now Project Connect needs to get more people to fill them.

On Tuesday afternoon, students in Janet Ballweg’s screen printing class at Bowling Green State University put their skills to good use, printing 170 yellow t-shirts that will be worn by the hosts at Project Connect.

Those hosts help guide guests through the dozens of services that will fill every corner of St, Mark’s Church next Wednesday (Oct. 17) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

BGSU student Paul Verdell spreads ink in preparation to print a Project Connect t-shirt.

Project Connect is, according to organizers: “A one-day, one-stop event with free goods and services for Wood County individuals, families, elders, and veterans in need. This event is to get individuals that are in need in Wood County more aware of the broad range of organizations and resources available for their benefit.”

In 2017, Project Connect, an initiative of the Continuum of Care Coalition of Wood County,  helped 574 individuals from 278 households. More than 200 people volunteers and 52 providers and agencies set up shop.

Project Connect provides same day services as well as long-term connections. 

The hosts are key players in this. They help the guests navigate the event so they get what they need, whether it’s legal help, food assistance, a winter coat, or a haircut.

One week out from Project Connect those hosts are in short supply. An email sent out Tuesday said 46 hosts were still needed. Click to volunteer.

It takes more than 200 volunteers to stage the event, said Erin Hachtel, one of the Project Connect co-chairs.

And these students are a part of the effort. “For me it’s a way to show the many ways people can use their talents to help people. You see people using art to make a difference in the community.”

Printing of Project Connect t-shirts in progress at BGSU School of Art.

This is Project Connect’s sixth year, and Ballweg’s students have printed the t-shirts each year. Some years they’ve done more and in multiple colors. Hatchel was wearing a red shirt, which signifies that she’s a member of the organizing committee. On the day of the event this lets people know, she’ll have broader knowledge about what’s going on.

Because there were extras from previous years, only yellow shirts are being printed. 

“It’s a way to give back to the community,” Ballweg said.

This service learning project has elements of both. Given it’s early in the semester, the students have only completed one printing project so far. Taking this  on accelerates their learning. They have to work together, and teach other while printing the shirts, Ballweg said.

While their schedules don’t allow them to volunteer on the day itself, she does encourage them to stop by to see for themselves what happens at Project Connect.

Those who do are impressed, she said. They don’t realize that this kind of poverty exists in Bowling Green.

Hatchel said: “I hope this is something that lasts beyond their student years and they take with them.” 

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