Smorgasbord of services offered Thursday in Port Angeles to homeless, those at risk

PORT ANGELES — At least 360 people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless are expected to avail themselves of services at the second Clallam County Project Homeless Connect on Thursday.

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the event will provide on-site services at the Vern Burton Community Center, 308 E. Fourth St., Port Angeles.

Some 40 service providers will offer housing referrals and placement, employment services, medical care, mental health and substance abuse care, insurance benefits advice and enrollment, haircuts, nutritious food, giveaways and clothing, legal services, veterans services and pet care.

“Everything is on the spot,” said Jill Dole, co-chairwoman with Cindy Burdine of Serenity House as well as Clallam County Homelessness Task Force coordinator.

A Department of Social and Health Services mobile unit in the center’s parking lot will immediately consult with people to provide them with food stamps and medical benefits.

The state Department of Licensing will offer driver’s licenses or identification cards for free, Dole said.

The Olympic Peninsula Humane Society will staff a mobile unit outside the center and offer vaccinations, pet checkups and pet-sitting for those who want to go inside.

Tacoma Goodwill employment will be there, Dole said, handing out a total of $500 in clothing vouchers and signing people up for jobs.

The Port Angeles Food Bank chefs will prepare food.

“We don’t screen people who are in need,” Dole said. “We just welcome everybody. That’s the point of this whole thing.”

Last year, 360 served

Last year, Homeless Connect’s inaugural event drew 360 people who were homeless or at risk for homelessness, Dole said.

“I think this year, we’ll have at least as many,” she said.

The 2010 event had 40 service agencies represented, with 150 people offering services and another 100 volunteers helping out.

Clallam Transit is providing free transportation to the center. Anyone in Clallam or Jefferson counties can ride free by telling the driver, “Take me to Vern Burton center.”

Homeless Connect is a countywide event sponsored by Clallam County and its advisory task force, with funding for Project Homeless Connect coming from the Clallam County Homeless Fund and through community donations and sponsorships.

The Port Angeles event is part of a nationwide effort that has been conducted in more than 250 cities across the United States with the goal of ending homelessness.

For information, phone Dole at 360-565-2608 or e-mail jdole@co.clallam.wa.us.

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