Dr. Debra Colley, executive vice president of Niagara University, talked about the institution's Catholic and Vincentian-inspired commitment to serving the poor during this year's Project Connect Niagara press conference, which was held today at the Heart, Love and Soul food pantry and dining room.

In its second year, Project Connect Niagara is looking to make a larger impact upon the Niagara community by bringing together organizations, agencies and services in a one-day, one-stop event. This year’s event will take place Wednesday, July 26, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Heart, Love and Soul food pantry and dining room, located at 939 Ontario Ave., Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14305.

More than 45 organizations will gather to offer information, referrals and assistance to anyone who may be in need of help. Some of the resources available will include housing, employment, government benefits, Veterans’ benefits, legal services, public benefits screenings, financial services and family services.

Also onsite will be healthcare providers offering physical exams, testing, vaccinations, dental care referrals, mental health screening and counseling, along with support and spiritual care.

“More than a quarter of Niagara Falls residents live in poverty,” remarked Dr. Debra Colley, Niagara University’s executive vice president, at a press conference regarding the event Tuesday. “This is unacceptable, and programs like Project Connect Niagara help us to have meaningful conversations and offer critical resources to address this issue.”

With a goal of making a positive impact on the community, Project Connect Niagara aims to form a partnership between community volunteers, city government, nonprofits, and the private sector to provide this “one-stop shop” of health and human services for those in need throughout Niagara County.

“When you talk about the revitalization of the city, people think of objects…but rebuilding the physical infrastructure is the easy part. The hard part is rebuilding lives,” said City of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster. “When someone embarks on the crusade to make their lives better, they deserve our help. Events like this show that help is out there.”

The event is presented by the Niagara County Coalition for Services to the Homeless, in conjunction with the annual Niagara County Poverty Conference. Sponsors of this year’s event include Catholic Health, the Niagara Falls Teachers Community Service Fund, the Homeless Alliance of WNY, Kane Construction, Fidelis Care, the Mobile Safety Net Team, and United Way of Greater Niagara.

“More than 265 individuals attended last year’s event, and the planning committee has worked diligently over the past year to address the feedback from that event, expand our reach within the community, and bring in more organizations and services,” said Christian Hoffman, a member of the event’s planning committee.

For additional information about the event, please call 716.205.0287, visit www.niagara.edu/projectconnect or email moc.liamg@aragaintcennoctcejorp. Transportation to the event is being provided by Aries Transportation from Lockport and sites around Niagara Falls.

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