NEWS file photo                                Yvonne Geigle, left, and Jane Parham with some of their baked goods at the Project Connect Health Fair last year. This year, the fair is Oct. 10 in Parksville.

NEWS file photo Yvonne Geigle, left, and Jane Parham with some of their baked goods at the Project Connect Health Fair last year. This year, the fair is Oct. 10 in Parksville.

Project Connect Health Fair returns to Parksville

Variety of free services available for homeless and at-risk-of-homelessness residents

The sixth annual Project Connect Health Fair, organized by the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness, will take place Thursday, Oct. 10 from noon to 3 p.m. at the Parksville Community Centre.

The event, which happens every fall, aims to connect residents who are homeless or at risk of homelessness with a variety of free services and support.

“I do believe it is quite a valuable thing, you know, reaching out both in the sense of just showing that there is a part of the community that is reaching out… also in the literal sense,” said Auren Ruvinsky, co-ordinator of the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness.

“There’s physical value to it and I think it’s valuable in a community support sense.”

Free haircuts, hearing exams, foot care, public health testings, information on programs, healthy food, hygiene items, portraits and other donated services will be provided at Thursday’s event.

A veterinarian will also be on site to help people’s pets by providing pet food, flea care and vaccinations.

“The main focus of the event is to focus on connecting those specific homeless and low income people with services that are relevant to them,” Ruvinksy said. “But it’s also open to everybody who wants to come find out more and network.”

Although there are no up to date statistics on the number of homeless people in the area, one indication is the number of applications for the Orca Place supportive housing shelter. According to the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness, there were 119 initial applicants and they continue to pour in.

People applying for the shelter need to have been a local resident for at least a year and be homeless or significantly under housed.

The fair aims to not only help those in need, but raise awareness and break down stigma surrounding homelessness in Parksville, Qualicum Beach and surrounding areas.

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