Didi T. gets a haircut from Anne Lim at the Project Connect 2018 fair. Didi said since she stopped working because of health problems, she’s had trouble affording a hair cut. (Nicole Crescenzi/News staff)

One-stop shop service fair in Victoria connects people with resources needed

Project Connect 2018 brought together dozens of service providers for homeless, low-income communities

Hundreds of people gathered at the Central Baptist Church Tuesday for the Project Connect 2018 service fair, bringing dozens of homeless and low-income support resources to one place for people to access.

“It’s a way for people to come to a kind of a one-stop to see what services are available, so all kinds of different organizations are here,” said Kathy Stinson, CEO of th Cool Aid Society and chair of the Downtown Service Providers, who organized the event this year.

The fair ran in concurrence with Homelessness Action Week, a recognition of the homeless challenge facing the country, Stinson said. “It’s spotlighting that homelessness is an issue and we need to do something about it.”

READ MORE: Costs of homelessness far outweighs cost of housing says advocate

The event was sponsored by the United Way and included participants like Our Place, Cool Aid, Anawim Companion Society, AIDS Vancouver Island, TAPS, Peers and more.

There were also services put forward such as public health nurses offering flu shots and foot care, pharmacists offering medication reviews, hairdressers giving free haircuts, massage therapists doing massages, and photographers taking free portraits.

For Terry Edison-Brown, house director of the Anawim Companion Society, having everything in one spot was key so people could connect with the help that they need.

“We are so scattered, we’re all over the place,” Edison-Brown said. “A homeless person has to go from A to B to C to D… to get all their needs met, and that doesn’t really work well.”

READ MORE: Point in Time count finds homelessness growing in Victoria

For Evelyn Louie, today’s event meant she could get a flu shot.

“I forget when I’m at home, I always need to be reminded of everything,” Louie said. “It’s good to see lots of stuff we can do here for ourselves and someone else. I’m glad I came out today.”

For Ryan Naus and Donald Shore, it meant they could get a portrait together to celebrate six years of friendship.

“It’s nice to see everyone collaborating together and sharing thoughts and ideas on ways to help out the community,” Naus said.

Didi T. came to the fair for the first time, and was surprised at what she found.

“I have virtually no money since I got sick,” she said. “So I rely heavily on haircuts and some lunches and it works out really well for me.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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Kathy Stinson (left), CEO of the Cool Aid Society, and Terry Edison-Brown, house director of the Anawim Companion Society helped organize the Project Connect 2018 fair, which offers a space for homeless and low-income resources to come together. (Nicole Crescenzi/News staff)

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