Walking through the doors of Central School gym for Community Connect Day, people are being welcomed with smiles as greeters assist people navigate through more than 20 free services being provided today.
Connecting people in need with resources locally is what Community Connect Day is all about. Organizations are providing free haircuts, dental check-ups, flu shots, medical appointments and health testing, foot care and hearing screening until 3 p.m.
Event co-coordinator Ann Harvey, from the Nelson Committee on Homelessness, said the need is great and expects 200 to 300 people.
“There were 50 people lined up at the door a half hour before we opened this morning,” she said.
Sam Baio, owner of Valhallla Pure Outfitters, said his booth full of free warm coats was very busy right after the doors opened. Baio and his employees collected the racks of jackets through Coats for the Koots.
Sylvie Mazerolle at the Nelson and District Women’s Centre booth is there to help people find fitting delicates, children’s clothing and footwear in the “Free Store”.
Several of the services were set apart on the stage with privacy barriers for personal care services like hair cuts and acupuncture.
Two massage tables are set up in a tent, with a massage chair and reflexology with aromatherapy nearby. Health agencies are offering testing for hearing, blood sugar and dental care. The Nelson Food Cupboard is giving away food bags and another booth offers information on legal advocacy. Kootenai Art therapy has a fully stocked creative table. The free cafe is welcoming guests, as is the children’s activities area.
Helen Lutz and Diana Daghofer are engaging guests in conversations for input into solutions that would make a difference to ease one’s life in, and to get out of, poverty. Lutz and Daghofer have been contracted to work on a poverty reduction strategies in Nelson. Lutz said, “Many services are providing band-aids, which are greatly needed, and we are looking for the cure. Both are needed.”
New councillor-elect Michael Dailly was there delivering fresh coffee and hot beverages. He said the event allows services and resources to be show cased in the community where people can connect and then follow up.
“Once a year isn’t enough,” he said. “I think this happens at different places all year long but it comes together at one place so we can see it.
“The connect is the main thing.”
All the services are free and available until 3 p.m. at Central School at 811 Stanley Street.