By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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PORT ANGELES — Homeless Clallam County residents — or those who are at risk of becoming homeless — will be able to get dental, medical, veterinary and many other services from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8.
Adults, families, young adults, senior citizens, people with disabilities, veterans — anyone who experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming one — are welcome at the event at Vern Burton Community Center, 308 E. Fourth St., event sponsors said.
“We would like to see some of our clients to be able to put themselves back in the mainstream,” said Mercy Luquetta-Cole, event coordinator for Clallam County Homeless Outreach Project Homeless Connect.
Project Homeless Connect will provide free basic medical and urgent dental care, and access to education, employment and benefits systems.
Also, mental health and chemical dependency assessments, identification card replacements, flu shots and haircuts, Luquetta-Cole said.
Veterinary care also will be offered, as well as sitting for pets while their owners are working with other services — 48 service providers in all, Luquetta-Cole said.
The SmileMobile is scheduled to be at the event, with local dentists, dental hygienist and dental assistants volunteering their services.
Clallam Transit System will provide all-day free bus service to anyone attending the event, Luquetta-Cole said.
A group of 85 volunteers — Clallam County Health and Human Services or Serenity House personnel and individuals who simply want to make a difference — are trained and ready to help, she said.
Many others worked behind the scenes to organize the event — as many as 350 in total, Luquetta-Cole said.
Project Homeless Connect is a countywide event that provides a starting place on the journey back to safety, stability, health and hope for people in our community who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless.
The event is sponsored and organized by Clallam County Homeless Outreach, a nonprofit volunteer base organization.
“Our single mission is to support and assist those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness,” Luquetta-Cole said.
Nationally, Project Homeless Connect was founded by California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsome in 2004, then mayor of San Francisco, and the Interagency Council on Homelessness declared the program a national best practice model.
It has been replicated in over 200 cities nationwide.
A Pierce County Project Homeless Connect event drew several volunteers from the Clallam County area, who brought the event to Port Angeles in 2010, Luquetta-Cole said.
Donations to support Project Homeless Connect can be sent to Clallam County Homeless Outreach, P.O. Box 804, Port Angeles, WA 98362
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.