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Rural Health Information Hub

HCC Network of Rural Missouri's Project Connect Event

Summary 
  • Need: To expand public health and human services to adults living in rural West Central Missouri.
  • Intervention: Health Care Collaborative Network of Rural Missouri organizes Project Connect events, daylong resource fairs that offer free public health and human services to underserved adults.
  • Results: In 2022, Project Connect events welcomed 179 guests and facilitated 2,673 total service encounters.

Description

Health Care Collaborative Network of Rural Missouri (HCC Network) is a rural healthcare network comprised of over 60 organizations that serve Missouri's Lafayette, Carroll, Ray, Saline, and Eastern Jackson counties. HCC Network provides a centralized service hub to ensure adequate provision of healthcare services to the public. It also serves as a source of advocacy for healthcare providers. Read more about HCC Network in RHIhub's Rural Monitor article Rural Network Leads the Way with Intentional Collaboration.

Along with their many other programs, HCC Network has organized Project Connect events since 2015 to promote access to community services. Based on Missouri's Project Homeless Connect Workgroup model, Project Connect brings service organizations together to provide free public health and human services for one day to underserved or underinsured adults.

Project Connect's vision is to provide care for the whole person, not just their ailment, and is geared toward low-income adults, a population that often falls through the cracks. Volunteer guides accompany guests through the vendor booths, which include medical services, county public health offices, recovery resources, veterans services, and much more.

HCC Network American Legion
The American Legion connects veterans with local services at HCC Network's Project Connect events.

Throughout the year, manufacturers and retailers donate goods such as furniture, bedding, towels, paper products, toiletries, mattresses, and mobility equipment to The Warehouse, another HCC Network program. While The Warehouse benefits organizations that serve those in need throughout the year, items are also distributed to attendees of Project Connect events.

HCC Network works with 60 local service providers, businesses, schools, civic groups, churches, and individuals, including the Missouri Department of Social Services Family Support Division, to extend invitations to clients who could benefit from this event.

Project funders include the REACH Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City, the Health Care Collaborative of Rural Missouri, and other private organizations.

Services offered

Project Connect events have typically been held at school gymnasiums or churches. Project Connect events offer the following services, which are often difficult to access for patients with low income or other disadvantageous social determinants of health.

Public Health Services

HCC Network Medical Equipment
Medical equipment such as wheelchairs and walkers are donated to The Warehouse, another HCC Network program.
  • Free medical services from local clinics, including appointment scheduling
  • Vouchers for immunizations
  • Nursing and in-home care resources
  • Dental extractions
  • Measurements for glucose, A1C, blood pressure
  • Pregnancy tests, women's resources
  • Behavioral health screenings
  • Prescription drug disposal
  • Distribution of donated goods including furniture, bedding, towels, paper products, toiletries, mattresses, and mobility equipment

Human Services

HCC Network Warehouse Donations
Care packages are created for Project Connect guests.
  • Nutritional education and program enrollment
  • Job services
  • Housing information and utility assistance
  • Enrollment for Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment, disability, etc.
  • Veterans resources and services
  • Recovery resources
  • Referrals to social service providers
  • Vouchers for birth/death certificates, driver's licenses, photo IDs
  • Hair cuts
  • Care packages

Results

The following are results from two Project Connect events in Concordia and Carrollton in 2022:

  • 189 volunteers donated a cumulative 1,290 volunteer hours
  • 149 total guests
  • 2,673 total service encounters
  • Over 150 care bags distributed
  • Over 100 food boxes distributed
  • Over 30 teeth extracted
  • 19 haircuts provided

Read about other Project Connect results from events in Higginsville, Odessa, and Lexington.

The Warehouse and Project Connect are featured in the following news articles:

This video provides additional information about HCC Network's Project Connect, The Warehouse, and other services:

Challenges

Getting community members, service groups, and volunteers to grasp the fact that there are people in their own communities who are in need was initially a challenge. However, once people witnessed the needs first-hand at Project Connect events, the reality became clearer.

Another early challenge was finding a way to collect the items businesses and individuals wished to donate. In 2018, HCC Network purchased a box truck, which solved the transportation problem.

Replication

Project Connect organizers offer the following tips for anyone interested in replicating their model:

  • While having at least one champion of this event is key, it is essential to also have buy-in from community members to make this event a success. Establish local leadership teams to give direction and provide input about their communities' needs.
  • Hold weekly meetings with stakeholders to keep momentum going, secure volunteers, and keep up to date with vendor needs.
  • Maintaining good relationships and open communication with your stakeholders is valuable for funding purposes as well. Make sure to communicate all the services you offer through the event. The wider the range of services, the more likely your potential funders will find at least one that interests them.
  • Share your vision widely through the network and organizations with whom you partner, since their clients should be your target audience. Communicate passionately to make clear that this event is necessary and beneficial.
  • Start marketing for volunteers early. Depending on the size of event, anywhere from 100 to 200 volunteers may be needed. Leverage social media, local media, and schools to get the word out about volunteer needs and event details.
  • HCC Network staff follow up with all Project Connect attendees using the PRAPARE Assessment Tool, a comprehensive resource directory, to ensure all the clients' needs have been met.
HCC Lex La-Ray Students
Students from Lex La-Ray Technical Center hold a coat and blanket drive for The Warehouse.

Contact Information

Suzanne Smith, Director of Network Development
Health Care Collaborative of Rural Missouri
Project Connect
660.251.8107
suzanne@hccnetwork.org

Topics
Human services
Networking and collaboration
Public health

States served
Missouri

Date added
January 12, 2018

Date updated or reviewed
April 19, 2023

Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2023. HCC Network of Rural Missouri's Project Connect Event [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/1001 [Accessed 22 April 2024]


Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.