United Way of Central Maryland held its first Project Connect in Harford County since 2019 Thursday. The resource fair provided a variety of free goods and services to local citizens who may not be able to afford them otherwise.
“Everybody’s excited to get back to serving the community and providing this valuable resource fair for Harford County residents,” said Jennifer Crosson, relationship manager for United Way of Central Maryland.
The fair, which took place at The EPICENTER in Edgewood, provides everything from hygiene kits and bagged lunches, to health services, such as eye exams, haircuts and giving COVID vaccines and flu shots.
Amy Novak, United Way’s associate vice president of client development, said it can be difficult for people to take time out of their schedules to do all these different things in different places.
“To have it here all under one roof and have people that can help them…,” Novak said, “is just a huge weight off a lot of people’s shoulders. And to know that they don’t have to pay for anything and it’s going to be a great fun experience.”
Novak said other big draws were the Motor Vehicle Administration helping people register for driver’s licenses and the Harford County Health Department helping people get birth certificates.
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“Without a birth certificate, you can’t get a driver’s license,” Novak said. “Sometimes you can’t get a job. [It’s] just very difficult to navigate without those really essential pieces of identification, so to be able to come here and walk out with an official document is a really big deal for them.”
People from the Maryland Bar Foundation were also there to help people with expungements. Novak mentioned that people can normally get misdemeanors expunged for a couple hundred dollars, but some people aren’t able to afford that.
“The goal is to just help them get back into the workforce and be more self-sufficient,” she said.
Novak estimated about 200 to 300 people would come to the fair throughout the event, which lasted from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. One change from past events was that dental services were not provided, due to COVID concerns, Novak said.
United Way partnered with Harford County government for the event who helped fund the services provided. Other sponsors for the event included Harford Mutual Insurance Company and APGFCU.
Lisa Gibson was one of the stylists providing haircuts at the event. She said that even though people may think the beauty industry is merely for outward appearances, one haircut can mean a lot to someone.
“It makes all the difference,” Gibson said. “It’s their body. It’s the only thing they have.”