South County-based business helps Project Homeless Connect feed 1200 at day-long eventThis is a great example of the community coming together to help people who are in a vulnerable situation
For Double DD Meats, donating food for community groups is business as usual. “I make so many donations, it’s hard to keep track of them,” said Kim Nygard, owner of the butcher shop in Mountlake Terrace. “We’ve been doing this for thirty years – probably one donation a day.”
Their contribution of 40 pounds of sliced turkey helped Project Homeless Connect serve twelve hundred meals at a day-long event providing a full range of direct services to individuals and families.
Participants had their choice of soup or salad and chicken, turkey or sausage to go with the pasta, bread, sautéed vegetables and coffee, water or juice. Silvana Meats, Campbell StockPot and Cactus Restaurant also made significant contributions of food.
For Chalanda and her eight-year-old son, Alasan, Thursday’s event at Cascade High School was the first time they were able to get a housing voucher.
According to Chalanda, it will “give her an opportunity to get back to work.” She asked organizers to “please keep helping people” and added, “I am just so thankful.”
Chalanda and Asalan are not alone. The 2013 countywide Point in Time count of homeless individuals in Snohomish County showed 1,996 people in 1,151 households without a permanent place to stay. Of the individuals counted this year, an estimated 757 (38 percent) were homeless children under the age of 18.
For the fifth year in a row, Snohomish County social service organizations and a host of other groups provided a full-range of free services to 1,202 individuals and their families as part of a one-day event on Thursday, June 27 called Project Homeless Connect.
County Executive John Lovick, who helped serve meals last year, helped kick off this year’s event.
"This is a great example of the community coming together to help people who are in a vulnerable situation,” Lovick said. “The event makes a real difference in people's lives. The key is that we provide a full range of services while treating people with dignity and respect."
It was a theme that was repeated throughout the day: treating people with dignity and respect.
In another first, 1,200 pairs of sneakers were donated by Brooks Sports and handed out by Redeeming Soles. YWCA of Seattle-King-Snohomish distributed 941 bags and backpacks filled with toiletries.
Thirty hairstylists provided 267 haircuts to young and old, alike. Everett Animal Shelter provided pet care for 132 dogs and cats. Also for the first time, denturists were on hand to repair 80 dentures on-site. Two mobile dental clinics provided more extensive dental care.
Family Focus Portraits offered free, laminated photos to 42 families. Snohomish Health District saw about 200 people for pertussis immunizations and screenings for TB, hepatitis C and HIV. Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity provided 250 people with vision screening and glasses, when necessary. The Lions Club also provided sunglasses, reading glasses, eyeglass cases and more.
In all, 335 people from 77 organizations and 130 volunteers offered free, direct services including Department of Social and Health Services and veterans’ benefits counseling, medical and dental appointments, pet care, mental health support, haircuts, a hot meal and housing information. For the first time, two teachers were also hired for the day to provide childcare.
Project Homeless Connect can be found online at www.uwsc.org/phcsnoco, on Facebook at Project Homeless Connect - Snohomish County, http://www.facebook.com/phcsnoco and on Twitter at @phcsnoco<http://www.twitter.com/phcsnoco.
Begun in Everett in 2009, Project Homeless Connect builds on a national model to deliver immediate services and to improve long-term access to services.
The event is a collaboration among the Snohomish County Human Services Department, United Way of Snohomish County the Snohomish Health District, the City of Everett, multiple nonprofits, volunteers and the Homeless Policy Task Force.
The lead agency of the event has shifted over the years from Housing Hope, Cocoon House, Snohomish County Health and Human Services, and now, to United Way of Snohomish County.