Master of Social Work students assist in preparation for Project Homeless Connect

Master of Social Work students are receiving real-world experience through assisting Madison County’s homeless community as part of Project Homeless Connect.

Project Homeless Connect is a one-day event organized by the Madison County Continuum of Care in which social service providers come together for those in need. Social work professor Jayme Swanke said food pantries and housing counseling services, among others, have a presence at the event. Individuals who attend the event can be assessed for their needs to ensure they visit the appropriate providers at the event.

SIUE’s involvement with the project is significant, according to Swanke, because it builds partnerships with the Madison County Continuum of Care and area service providers.

“I think that it shows that SIUE is really out there and willing to help those that are in need,” Swanke said.

Swanke’s community development class was divided into two groups – one focusing on recruiting social service vendors and the other collecting donations.

“So the students have recruited about 35 vendors, they’ve secured a donation for tables and chairs for the event, which the last four years, that’s something that the continuum has had to pay out of pocket for so that’s a huge get,” Swanke said.

Students have also compiled press materials and set up donation drives throughout the county.

Master of Social Work student Dominique Smith, a member of the donation team, said her team has gathered donations, sent out flyers and asked for monetary donations.

Smith said SIUE’s involvement in the event shows a commitment to the community. Working on the event has created networking opportunities, as well as built stronger connections with classmates.

“The people I’ve met are so wonderful [and] so nice,” Smith said. “The classmates I worked with, I wasn’t very close to them and it has brought us close together.”

Knowing they are making a difference with the money raised has been the most rewarding aspect of the project, according to Smith. She said roughly $350 has been raised so far, which is more than last year’s amount.

Project Homeless Connect coincides with the county’s point-in-time count, which identifies the number people considered homeless, according to Swanke.

SIUE has been involved with Project Homeless Connect since last year. This year’s event will be held 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Jan. 29 at the Salvation Army in Alton.

Donations of new socks/underwear, personal hygiene products, gently used coats, hats, gloves and cash donations can still be made. Contact Swanke at for more information.

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed Under: Social Work

Tags: , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

Switch to our mobile site