BILOXI -- Channatta Johnson was smiling as she filled out paperwork Friday.
She had been smiling all morning -- she normally had a smile on her face, she said, even though people often ask her why.
Johnson has been homeless since February. She camps with her 24-year-old son in the woods.
She had come to Project Homeless Connect for one reason: housing.
Never miss a local story.
"Since I've been out there, I've seen a lot of people, maybe 10 or 11 that I know, get off the streets," she said. "And even if I'm not off the streets, if I can help the next person get off the streets I've done my job."
Johnson has lived in Gulfport all of her 44 years. She has a job, just not one that can pay the rent.
On Friday she was one of about 250 people who stopped at the Donal Snyder Community Center for a resource day for the homeless that offered a crucial advantage for a population that can find it difficult to get around the Coast -- 42 vendors in one place.
Volunteers passed out boxes full of warm Thanksgiving food. Churches were giving out hand-knitted hats, homemade baked goods and ground tarps.
Nurses were on hand for flu shots and health screenings, veterinarians provided exams for pets. There were counselors offering assistance with employment, VA issues and housing.
Organizers with the Open Doors Homeless Coalition and its member agencies had put up fliers and had outreach workers tell the homeless people they work with about the resource day.
Transportation was provided to the community center.
"It's a one-stop shop, a way to get services at one place, not all over town," said Mary Simons, the executive director of the Open Doors Homeless Coalition. "If you don't have a home, things like pet care or haircuts are out of reach."
Across the room, Mark Inman, a veteran of Operation Desert Storm, was getting a haircut. He was enrolled in a homeless program with the VA but was at the community center for employment help.
He is a certified crane operator and was hoping for a job at the port.
This year saw fewer people at the resource day, Simons said, who noted the homeless population has decreased.
The organization's goal was to connect people to the services they need in the short term, and to help them move to a permanent residence in the long term.
Johnson was confident she would be able to do that.
But she also wanted people to understand how easy it is to become homeless.
"Everybody's a check away from being in the streets. Everybody has to get up every morning and go to work," she said. "One day, what would happen if you cannot get up and go to work? You lose your job, the next day you lose your home, then you're out here."