NEW BEDFORD - With all the controversy surrounding pan handling and the number of homeless people in New Bedford, sometimes its easy forget that there's a human side to it. But one event made sure the homeless don't lose sight of the fact that people in the city still care for them.

Community volunteers joined members from Rise Up For Homes on Wednesday to provide services to individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

The free event called New Bedford Connect ran from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at the YMCA and saw the distribution of health screenings, flu shots, warm meals and other supportive services to those in need.

Kevin Jose volunteered his time to New Bedford Connect and worked most of the morning providing meals and conversing with people affected by homelessness. He says that he's happy to be able to give back to the city and that events like these give him the opportunity to potentially change someone's life for the better.

“It was really about the energy of just helping people out that are just not in the right place and helping them work at getting towards a better place in life,” Jose said. “That's really what I came to get [out of it].”

Several vendors providing medical services, financial assistance, legal advice, and more filled the YMCA. One vendor, the North Star Learning Center, provided information on its daycare and after school programs along with other educational opportunities.

“There are a bunch of services that we do provide. We have the mental health clinic, an after-school program, we have some daycare and then we have our youth services programs,” said a North Star volunteer who asked to remain anonymous.

Another vendor, the YWCA, an organization that advocates for social and racial justice, as well as women's rights, offered information to people about their services that focus on women affected by homelessness.

“Some women are coming from domestic violence,” explained an anonymous volunteer for the organization. “Other women maybe had their homes caught on fire; it could be a number of reasons so we take women from all walks of life. We help them empower themselves and get back on their feet.”

Rise Up For Homes is a collaborative campaign established by the members of the City of New Bedford's Homeless Service Providers Network (HSPN). The HSPN aims to build community awareness as well as raise funds to meet the complex needs of homeless individuals and families of the area.

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