Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Project Homeless Connect 4 calls on University

On April 20, the University of Denver’s annual DU Volunteer Days efforts will be concentrated on Project Homeless Connect 4. As many as 1,000 homeless individuals will attend the event at the Ritchie Center to get needed services, including health care, job interviews and education information.

Hundreds of volunteers will help with everything from registration to meal preparation, with a majority of volunteers working one-on-one with homeless people — providing direction, answers and escorting them to service providers.

Joey Scott

Joey Scott was homeless at 16. A violent situation at home forced him out of the house and into a youth shelter. For six months the shelter provided food, schooling and a caseworker.

Scott knows first-hand the complicated causes of homelessness.

“It’s hard to blame it on the individual person,” says Scott, a sophomore philosophy and French major at DU.

“There are circumstances that you may never know that contributed to their homelessness.”

Since coming to DU, Scott has turned his experience into a service opportunity. Last year, he worked at the temporary cold-weather homeless shelter at the University Park United Methodist Church, and now he volunteers two nights a week at a temporary shelter downtown.

For Scott, DU’s commitment to Project Homeless Connect is part of an ongoing dedication.

And Scott believes that real understanding of homelessness comes from either being homeless or working closely with homeless people.

“The people who volunteer are really benefiting because they get the education of first-hand involvement (with homeless people),” he says.

Trent Ruder

Trent Ruder, a master’s candidate in the Graduate School of International Studies, was brought in on the ground floor to help plan Project Homeless Connect 4.

In November, as a graduate work-study student in the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, Ruder was put on the task of recruiting graduate-student volunteers and developing content for the PHC4 Web site,

For Ruder, the experience of watching the event’s three partners — DU, the Mile High United Way, and the city and county of Denver — work together fulfilled professional goals. Ruder is working on his master’s degree in global finance, trade and economic development, and he hopes to work with for-profit companies that make a positive social impact. He says he’s glad for the experience of planning an event of this size that includes so many stakeholders.

Because of his months of logistical work, Ruder says, “the event is sort of the capstone to this whole planning process.”

Malorie Stroud

It wasn’t difficult to persuade Malorie Stroud to volunteer for Project Homeless Connect. She saw a poster at the Ritchie Center and an online announcement, and that was it. She was in.

For Stroud, a first-year international business major, it was another way to get involved. Stroud is part of the DU Involvement Team, where she and four other interns plan programs that improve students’ connection to campus and the community.

So getting involved in DU Volunteer Days was an opportunity Stroud wouldn’t miss.

She believes PHC4 will increase awareness of homelessness at DU.

“Everyone’s so busy,” she says. “It’s easy to lose focus of what’s going on in the world.”

Project Homeless Connect 4 at a glance

WHEN: Friday, April 20, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

WHERE: Gates Field House, Ritchie Center


This article originally appeared in The Source, April 2007.

Read about the April 10 discussion on ending homelessness.

Comments are closed.