For Hank Jones, Saturday's Homeless Connect at Carson City's Health and Human Services Department, is something which should be offered more often in communities.
"People should do this. We are a throw-away nation, and too much goes to waste," Jones said.
"Right now I'm staying with my ex-wife, living in the garage, but sometimes I get homeless and it's hard to get food," he said. "At the Reno mission, you can just go in without a ticket and if you're hungry, they'll feed you. It's not that easy here. People do need help sometimes."
Homeless Connect, in its sixth year, is an annual event held in the parking lot of Carson City Health and Human Services. It is designed as a resource expo for local needy people.
"It's sad that so many things get thrown away," Jones said. "They throw away food, they throw away TVs. What are they chasing? We reach out to other nations, and I can understand that, but we've got a lot of homeless in our own back yard, and we need to help them first. It's nuts!"
Hundreds of people turned out for this year's Homeless Connect. They were requested first to go to an interview table where volunteers from St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Community helped them fill out an assessment so they could be directed to the services they needed.
"We interview them to learn what their needs are," said volunteer Nancy Haffey. "We try to determine how they might have become homeless and if they're looking for work, those sorts of things."
Haffey said there are a lot of people who have had domestic issues and end up with broken families, possibly couch surfing. There also are a lot of older male veterans who weren't discharged in the right way, so they can't get veteran's services.
Among the free services offered Saturday were showers, haircuts, immunizations, HIV screening, advice from doctors and dentists, clothing, a free meal, legal advice, school backpacks and assistance with uniforms, towels, blankets, and checkups for pets.
"I brought my cat in for a checkup, and I got some clothes and a blanket," said Mike Cain. "Right now I live with my brother on a $1,000 military pension, and that's not much."
Alexis Kluever, 14, was working as a volunteer and usher for the event. She was there with the Carson High School Interactive Club and Rotary International.
"We try to get out in the community to help organizations like FISH. Today we're talking to people to see if they need medical help or help for veterans or help for their pets, or whatever," Kluever said. "Things like this help us to learn
to look at the needs of the community."
Participating in the Homeless Connect were organizations and agencies such as the Ron Wood Family Resource Center, Carson City School District, Nevada Legal Services, Capital City Circles Initiative, Advocates to End Domestic Violence, Carson City Senior Center, J.O.I.N., FISH, Do Drop Inn, Salvation Army, Carson City Mental Health, a number of churches and hair salons, Latino United Community, Partnership Carson City, Disability Action Advocates and more.