Local residents are involved in project for the homeless

Clothing, shoes and a dentist are needed for Jan. 27 event

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Several Camas residents are doing their part to provide necessary supplies and services for the area’s homeless population.

Missy Shepherd, a volunteer with the Council for the Homeless, is coordinating “guest guides” for the fourth annual “Project Homeless Connect.”

The event will be held Thursday, Jan. 27, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Red Lion at the Quay, 100 Columbia St., Vancouver.

“Project Homeless Connect is a one-day event where we gather a wide variety of service providers and support programs all under one roof to offer a day of free services and information for those who are homeless or living in poverty,” Shepherd said. “Guest guides need not be experts in social services. Guest guides do need to be friendly, ready to make conversation and eager to help.

“It is an opportunity to extend hospitality and ensure someone doesn’t leave without getting their questions answered by the service providers at the event,” she added.

Event organizers are currently seeking a dentist to provide free services. A dental van and instruments will be provided.

In addition to complimentary health screenings, including vision and dental care, there will be free counseling, employment and education assistance, veterans services and assistance with benefits, legal and financial information.

There will also be information provided to sign up for email and voice mail accounts.

“Once a guest visits three services, they are allowed to come into the ‘giving corner’ and fill two bags of items to take with them,” Shepherd said. “Some items which are always needed include travel size hand cream, sanitizer, Chapstick, Kleenex, sleeping bags, socks — black ones and white ones — long underwear, extra extra large undershirts and extra large undershirts.”

Additional items needed include sleeping bags, tarps, hygiene products, underwear and coats.

Shepherd got involved with the project through New Heights Church, in Vancouver.

“Being able to serve others without judging is what God does for all of us every day,” she said.

Shepherd talked about the project for the homeless with her neighbor Roxanne Giffin, whose son Eric Lindoff needed an idea for a senior project at Camas High School.

“It feels good to help,” Lindoff said. “I have not helped the community in the past. Now is the time to start.”

Last month, he donated money to the “Stuff the Bus” food and toy collection effort, as well as the Salvation Army bell ringing campaign.

“I felt the Christmas spirit of giving,” Lindoff said.

His senior project presentation will be about how homelessness affects the community and the “small” things people can do to help during the challenging economy.

“No one should be left out when it’s hard on everyone,” Lindoff said.

Other local individuals assisting at the “Project Homeless Connect” event include Cheryl Bowen, owner of the Cut-A-Way Salon, in downtown Camas, and her granddaughter/beautician Brittaney Quinata.

Laurel Whitehurst, chairman of Arts of Clark County and a member of the Clark County Arts Commission, is seeking donations of pocket sized notebooks.

“Arts of Clark County intends to provide attendees at this event with a creative experience by providing them with a booklet to make colorful covers for their ‘journals,’ she said. “We will promote the benefits of keeping a journal as a creative outlet, a problem solving tool and a way to record your own history. Creating art and keeping a journal can be soul-nourishing, profoundly calming and rewarding.

“We are also requesting donations of arts supplies such as glue dots, crayons, paints, craft supplies and construction paper for children spending the night in a shelter.”

Donations of clothing, shoes and personal hygiene items can be placed in a bucket on Shepherd’s front porch, at 3542 N.W. Pacific Rim Drive, and the Council for the Homeless office, 2500 Main St., Vancouver. Notebooks and art supplies can be taken by Tuesday, Jan. 25, to One World Merchants, 2315 Main St., Vancouver.

For more information about “Project Homeless Connect” donation or volunteer opportunities, contact Shepherd at missy.steeltek@comcast.net or Whitehurst at 901-0044.

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