'Connect' organizers aim to link needy, social services

  • Article by: DAAREL BURNETTE II , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 2, 2011 - 9:00 PM

The event will offer one-stop convenience for those looking for help.

When Skyview Elementary teacher Jennifer Terry was a single mother raising two children, she found it difficult to navigate public resources for low-income families.

"I didn't have a clue on where to even start," she said.

So last fall, when she saw a growing number of her students' families falling below the poverty line, she wanted to give them tools that she didn't have.

That goal will become a reality Saturday when the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale school district hosts "Project Family Connect." More than 45 organizations will be on hand in one location to raise awareness and offer a broad range of services, ranging from mock job interviews to free HIV blood testing to teeth cleaning for low-income residents.

Terry got the idea after volunteering with "Project Homeless Connect," which directs people in Minneapolis without homes to services that can help them.

A bus will pick up residents in some North St. Paul, Maplewood and Oakdale neighborhoods. If a resident lives outside that area, organizers will send a bus voucher. Attendees will also be served lunch.

Terry has since remarried and, although she was laid off by District 622 and lost her teaching position last year, she was hired back as a math and intervention specialist.

"There are a lot of people still stuck below the poverty line trying to make ends meet," Terry said. "They don't know where to go. This is a part of making those connections."

The event runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Woodland Hills Church, 1740 Van Dyke St. in Maplewood. It is free and no registration is required. For more information, visit bit.ly/eytE2G or call 651-748-7541.

Daarel Burnette II • 651-735-1695

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