Milagro was excited to volunteer at the 2017 Project Homeless Connect, an annual one-day, one-stop shop event that brings resources and services to people in the community experiencing homelessness.
For the last four years, United Way has been a proud partner in Milwaukee Project Homeless Connect, recruiting volunteers and sponsors to serve thousands of local men, women, and children.
“The biggest thing is hope,” says Milagro. “If a person has hope, they are going to make it. Project Homeless Connect gave me hope.”
Four years ago, Milagro attended Project Homeless Connect as a guest. At the time, Milagro was without a place to live and did not know where to turn for resources. The event helped Milagro get a copy of his birth certificate, find housing options, and even get a haircut.
Milagro first experienced homelessness at a young age after his mother fled domestic violence and moved from shelter to shelter with her two sons.
In his teens and twenties, Milagro found himself in and out of the criminal justice system. When he was not incarcerated, he either slept outside or with friends and strangers who would take him in.
When his daughter, Lydia, was born, Milagro found himself a single father in need of a safe place to live.
“It was hard finding a shelter that would take both me and my daughter - a lot of programs will take mothers and children, but not fathers,” remembered Milagro.
Then, a friend told him about Project Homeless Connect.
“United Way believes in the potential of every person in our community,” said Krystina Kohler, Financial Stability Portfolio manager at United Way. “We invest resources into Project Homeless Connect because it simplifies the overwhelming healthcare, housing, employment, and legal systems and brings them together in one place on one day.”
Over 75 organizations and services are present each year at Project Homeless Connect. “Without events like this, we wouldn’t be able to empower people like Milagro, who change their lives and then change the world,” said Krystina.
In 2018, 97% of participants in Project Homeless Connect felt they were treated with dignity and 91% felt that their immediate needs were met.
At the event, Milagro was connected to the Milwaukee Continuum of Care, which works to house chronically homeless families and individuals. Soon, Milagro was approved for a federal housing voucher.
Now, Milagro, Lydia, and his one-year-old son La'Karrion are safe and comfortable in their apartment, and Milagro is pursuing his Associates Degree at MATC. Additionally, Milagro works with the National Youth Forum on Homelessness to help young people like himself in communities across the U.S.
“My dream is to be independent and get off of government dependence,” said Milagro. “That’s why education is so important to me. I want to be able to invest in my kids and help them be successful.”
As a volunteer at the 2017 Project Homeless Connect event, Milagro hoped that others experienced what he did when he used this resource.
“Before, I didn’t like going to the places that probably had the most resources to help. At Project Homeless Connect, I got to see people on a human level and they treated me like a human being.”
“I have the opportunity to break the cycle of homelessness, and give my kids more opportunity than I had,” said Milagro. “I want the best for them…I want everything for them.”
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