Eighth Annual Hope Connection Provides Support To Springfield’s Homeless

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – About 70 area agencies and organizations teamed up Wednesday to introduce hundreds of homeless residents of the Ozarks to services they can utilize to improve their lives.

The Community Partnership of the Ozarks held its 8th annual Hope Connection and Veteran Stand Down event at the Springfield Expo Center. This is the second year the two events have been combined.

The events help people with longer-term goals like finding a job and they provide services on the spot, such as flu shots and haircuts.

It is an initiative of the Community Partnership of the Ozarks’ Alliance to End Homelessness.

“It [the service] was awesome, and then once I got out into the civilian world, everything just – died,” said Veteran Andrew Reed.

Reed went on three tours of duty in Iraq before he was discharged from the Army, and he said he would go back if he could.

Back in the states, he found himself homeless in Springfield a few years ago — struggling to find a job and secure basic necessities.

“When we get out, nobody really understands what we’ve been through,” Reed said. “As soon as they hear that you got PTSD, schizophrenia, all that other good stuff, they’re like yeah come back tomorrow we’ll give you a call. [It] never happens.”

“The services are out there, I just think that a lot of people struggle with a lot of PTSD, they tend to turn to drugs and alcohol when they get out,” said Veteran Stand Down Volunteer Leah Goist. “I myself had a problem with alcohol for many years.”

Goist said her first few civilian years after serving in the Marine Corps were rough, but giving back to fellow veterans at events like the Veteran Stand Down has given her a new purpose.

“It’s just awesome, what the community does, all the services they provide, it’s amazing,” Goist said. “It really makes me proud that I’m part of this community.”

“This place is awesome, all the people in blue shirts here they help everybody, that’s like your tour guide,” Reed said.

While Reed has struggled to find new civilian allies, he was grateful Wednesday for anyone wearing that blue uniform.

Last year 650 people got access to services and more than 400 volunteers participated. With Wednesday’s pleasant weather, there will probably be an even higher turnout when the numbers are counted this year.
 

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