Connie didn’t plan to do anything special for her birthday last year. She was not thrilled about the idea of turning 60. Celebrating that milestone certainly wasn’t on the top of her priority list. When a friend told her about a special event called Weld Project Connect and the opportunity to volunteer, Connie looked at the date and it fell on her birthday. Connie asked herself: “What better way to spend my 60th birthday than by helping others?”
Connie never heard of Weld Project Connect, but by the end of the day, she knew this was an event that changed her life and the lives of the 1,000-plus guests she was helping.
Facilitated by United Way of Weld County, the ninth annual Weld Project Connect is a one-day event providing free on-site services to those in need due to housing instability, job loss, age, health problems and other issues. More than 70 free services will be provided including medical screenings, flu shots, haircuts, dental screenings, resume writing and review, women’s wellness and mammograms, legal counseling, education assistance, citizenship classes, library cards, senior services, foot washing, grief counseling, veterans benefits and services, veterans counseling and much more.
Volunteer navigators like Connie are needed for the ninth annual Weld Project Connect that will be open to guests from noon-4:30 p.m. Oct. 18 at Island Grove Events Center, North 14th Ave., & D Street, in Greeley. Navigators help guests identify the services they wish to access, prioritize by importance and then guide their guest to their priority services. Our navigators stay with their guest until all their needs are met. Training is provided for navigators so they’ll feel confident in their ability to assist each guest. If you were a navigator in the last two years, you are exempt from training.
Although the event doesn’t begin until noon, guests start lining up in front of the events center as early as 8 or 9 a.m. When Connie finished navigating her last guest through the various services available that day, she sat down and cried. Connie said she was so humbled to help her Weld County neighbors, and never imagined she’d become so emotional. She never realized the challenges that all these guests were facing in their everyday lives. Connie said she couldn’t think of a better way or place to spend her birthday, and she planned to volunteer every year after.
The Greeley-Evans Transit Bus Service will be free that day. Call (970) 350-9287 for bus routes. To volunteer and to learn about upcoming training sessions, visit www.unitedway-weld.org/wpc or call 2-1-1. For more information on volunteering, call Nicole Quinn at (970) 304-6198.
Think about volunteering on Oct. 18. More than 400 navigators are needed. You may be able to help change a life. The gratitude you will feel from the guests throughout the afternoon is priceless. Please consider being a part of this community collaboration. Like Connie did last year, help make a difference. One day. One place. One guest at a time.
Steve Moreno is a Weld County Commissioner and the chairman of 2019 Weld Project Connect.