After migrating to the U.S. from Cuba at age 14, Jackie Martinez decided to settle in Hastings about four years ago.
But after finding herself without a job and with a 1-year-old son to care for, the now 24-year old decided to seek help Thursday from Project Homeless Connect, the same organization she had assisted the year before as a volunteer interpreter.
Now in its third year locally at First St. Paul’s Lutheran Church — this year, in conjunction with neighboring Berean Bible Church — the Project Homeless Connect movement started in San Francisco in 2004 to assist the needy there.
Since then, it has spread to include more than 220 communities across the U.S., Canada and Australia.
After receiving employment services, job interview-appropriate clothing, diapers and toys for her son, Dylan, Martinez was feeling as though she had received a new lease on life. Not to mention a renewed belief in the goodness of her neighbors.
“I think it’s wonderful,” she said during her visit to First St. Paul’s. “It’s really good for the people of the city that we’re here willing to help each other. It’s great that volunteers come here to help.”