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.”
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.”
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.”