Stephen Marcelet hoped to find a coat and shoes for his daughter Molly. By the time he left Community Connect, Marcelet felt like he’d been given so much more.
Marcelet moved to Nelson two years ago. He showed up to Saturday at the Central School gymnasium, with a toddling Molly in hand, but wasn’t sure what he was in for.
“I didn’t come expecting anything. I just came to see what it was,” he said. “Now that I did get everything I was just like, ‘score.’ It feels good. I feel a part of the community. It’s a nice warm fuzzy feeling.”
The 10th annual Community Connect offered free services, clothing and information as well as a hot lunch. The event had 330 guests who were served by 81 people at 33 booths, according to the organizing Nelson Committee on Homelessness. The organization also had 55 volunteers on site, and got funding from 61 contributors.
Meg was one of many people who took advantage of everything the day offered. She received a jacket, a pair of winter boots as well as some personal advice.
The 15-year Nelson native, who declined to give her last name, said she hadn’t previously known where to find help for women. “I’m just happy to be received here in the community,” she said, before being called away for a new hair cut.
Sheila Hopkins was one of several hair dressers giving a new look to attendees. Hopkins, who works at Renaissance Organic Hair Salon, said a hair cut can do wonders for mental health.
“It changes everything,” she said. “It’s a simple thing.”
Meanwhile at a busy booth, Interior Health dental hygienist Mara Sand was helping a team of three other hygienists and a dentist provide quick exams.
Most of her new patients hadn’t been to a dentist in a long time, so Sand was also helping them find resources to fund further dental work if it was needed.
“My focus is to get people to love their teeth and take care of them and to appreciate who they are, as they are,” said Sand. “So I really spend most of my time reframing what they come to me with their needs and refocusing to create better choices for the rest of the lives.”
There were also plenty of new faces volunteering for the first time.
Alicia Mori grew up in Nelson but moved away for a time. She was at Community Connect helping to dole out children’s clothing for the Nelson and District Women’s Centre.
“I decided I wanted to get a little more rooted in what’s going on in Nelson,” said Mori. “So I decided to start volunteering at the women’s centre. They were asking for volunteers and I’m glad I came, because it’s so cool to see what people are doing.”