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Project Connect brings services to those in need

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Homeless Connect provides those in need with services to get them back on their feet.

La Crosse residents rallied to put roofs over the heads of the community with the annual Homeless Connect held Thursday.

Each July, Homeless Connect helps those who are struggling with housing meet resources they may need such as housing, veteran, or employer services. They also provide meals, massages, foot and hair care for guests who visit the event at the La Crosse Center.

Homeless Connect provides free hair cuts for those struggling with housing.

Becky Koske, assistant director of housing and community services department at Coulee Cap, is a member of the Homeless Connect planning committee. According to Koske, Coulee Cap counted 42 people in La Crosse Thursday morning who were without shelter for at least 24 hours. She said that number could be misleading if they missed people in the area.

“Homelessness or housing instability can be very overwhelming,” Koske said. “It is hard to decide which need to tackle first. Sometimes if you can see a warm, friendly face that can help walk you through the process, hopefully, it can be very helpful for people.”

Koske said they hoped to provide those who came with the connections they need to find shelter before cold weather hits in Wisconsin.

“Sometimes it is just a matter of putting a name to a face,” Koske said. “There are a lot of agencies represented. Hopefully, now they know somebody or at least they have a name they can connect with and get the services they need.”

KQ98 Cares and Morries Volkswagon La Crosse present a donation to the Coulee Collaborative to End Homelessness.

The event had almost 40 vendors, nearly twice as many as the year prior. Koske said they see people of all ages and backgrounds and even families who struggle with homelessness. They served more than 200 people at the event.

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.