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Providing essential services for families barely hanging on

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RICHMOND, Va. --Family Connect puts essential services within reach for moms and dads who are barely hanging on, in one place.

The 75 families invited to the event in Richmond said the volunteers and professionals they talked to and help made available will keep them off the streets and a roof over their head.

Theresa Terrell said she sees a lot of herself in ten-year-old Shamyia Rose. Shamyia and her family are barely hanging on while living in Hillside Court Public Housing unit in Richmond. The average income in some Richmond neighborhoods is under $9,000.

Teresa was also once down on her luck, but she turned her life around and is now part of the safety net at Richmond City Health District (RCHD) as a patient navigator.

“It is a scary thing, but I am living proof of it,” said Teresa. “It is very helpful.”

The RCHD is just one of many agencies helping the most at-risk for homelessness like Shamyia’s mom, Dextrina Rose.

“It is hard. There is a lot of stuff going on,” said Rose. “Workshops like these are good to go to.”

At the second annual Family Connect at Fifth Baptist Church in Richmond, children play while parents navigate through critical services; from health screenings and haircuts to housing and job info.

Children also walk away with coats and books for children.

“It is very serious,” said JoLinda Underwood with HomeAgain, which helps families stay afloat. “We have a lot of families that are experiencing homelessness.”

Underwood said there are at least 1,700 homeless children in Richmond.

Dextrina, mom of three, says the health fair is one stop shopping that can save a family.

"Everything. Everything you need,” says Dextrina. “I didn’t think all of this was going to be here. But it is.”

Teresa Terrell says it's not about giving people like Dextrina and her family a hand out, but a loving hand up.

“If you don’t know people care about you and what you are going through then you feel hopeless,” said Terrell.

Terrell also said there were people she leaned on when times were tough and who made the biggest impact on her life.

She is now working on her degree to become a substance abuse counselor. Terrell wanted to return the favor and help strangers like Dextrina and her daughter Shamyia. She believes that with a helping hand anything is possible.