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Project Connect happens through the power of community

Jody Paterson

Jody Paterson, long time supporter of the Victoria community

Accent Inns is thrilled to have Jody Paterson as one of our guests bloggers. Jody’s skills are a writer are only surpassed by her heartfelt outreach to our community.

Now from Jody:

Project Connect is a nice day for people who don’t get too many of them. And for the team of organizers who put the event on every year, it’s a heartening example of the power of community to pull things together.

The annual event for the street community is sponsored by the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness . It’s being held Oct. 13 at Our Place drop-in, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. We’re expecting close to 700 people to attend the service fair, which helps people living homeless and in extreme poverty connect to services and support by bringing together 30 or more vital services into the same room that day.

Add in a very popular Capital Lions Club burger BBQ in the Our Place courtyard, special gift packs for every participant, and a roster of more than 100 community volunteers and business supporters like Accent Inns, and you’ve got the makings of a special day.

Lions club serving hamburgers at project connect

Lions club serving hamburgers at project connect

Accent Inns Victoria hotel  helps us with Project Connect by donating some of the grooming products we need for the 700+ “survival packs” we’ll hand out that day. The packs contain a dozen or so items including winter socks, gloves, hats and scarves as well as a number of personal-care products: deodorant, hand sanitizer, soap, shampoo and more.

Those kinds of items are hard to find on the street, or for people living in extreme poverty. We’re always grateful for the outpouring of community donations that come in every year to help us fill those packs since the Coalition began sponsoring the event in 2008. We’re seeing businesses, office workers, churches, clubs, neighbourhoods and groups of friends around the region organizing small drives to gather up donations for us.

Not only does that get the packs filled at minimal cost, it builds community. Homelessness and poverty are issues that leave people feeling frustrated and helpless, and bewildered as to what they can do to help. Project Connect is a way for people to connect to the issues in a meaningful way, whether by helping with the donation drives or being one of the volunteers who make the day possible.

That alone won’t end homelessness, of course. But when our community reaches out through events like Project Connect, everyone gets to know each other a little better.

Just by drawing closer to the people experiencing homelessness, our community comes to understand the complexities around homelessness. It puts names to the individuals who are affected. It learns that homelessness and poverty are major problems, but ones that we can solve if we work together.

To volunteer at the Oct. 13 event, contact volunteer co-ordinator Deb Nilsen at, or Project Connect co-ordinator Jody Paterson at Thanks to Accent Inns and our other community supporters for making this event possible!

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