EVERETT — For Silvana Meats, a small specialty meats store based in Silvana, helping the community comes naturally. According to its employees, Silvana Meats donates to quite a few groups including schools, soccer and baseball teams.
Their contribution of 40 pounds of link sausage and 40 pounds of chicken breasts helped Project Homeless Connect serve 1,200 meals at a day-long event, providing a full range of direct services to individuals and families.
Participants had their choice of soup or salad, and chicken or sausage, to go with the pasta, bread and sautéed vegetables, and coffee, water or juice. Double DD Meats, Campbell StockPot and Cactus Restaurant also made significant contributions of food.
For Chalanda and her 8-year-old son, Alasan, that Thursday's event at Cascade High School was the first time they were able to get a housing voucher. According to Chalanda, it will "give me an opportunity to get back to work." She asked organizers to "please keep helping people," and added, "I am just so thankful."
Chalanda and Alasan are not alone. The 2013 countywide Point in Time count of homeless individuals in Snohomish County showed 1,996 people in 1,151 households without a permanent place to stay. Of the individuals counted this year, an estimated 757, or 38 percent, were homeless children under the age of 18.
For the fifth year in a row, Snohomish County social service organizations and a host of other groups provided a full-range of free services to 1,202 individuals and their families, as part of the one-day event on Thursday, June 27, called Project Homeless Connect.
County Executive John Lovick, who helped serve meals last year, helped kick off this year's event.
"This is a great example of the community coming together to help people who are in a vulnerable situation," Lovick said. "The event makes a real difference in people's lives. The key is that we provide a full range of services while treating people with dignity and respect."
Brooks Sports donated 1,200 pairs of sneakers, that were handed out by Redeeming Soles, while the YWCA of Seattle, King and Snohomish counties distributed 941 bags and backpacks filled with toiletries. Thirty hairstylists provided 267 haircuts to young and old alike. The Everett Animal Shelter provided pet care for 132 dogs and cats. Denturists were on hand to repair 80 dentures on-site, while two mobile dental clinics provided more extensive dental care.
Family Focus Portraits offered free, laminated photos to 42 families. The Snohomish Health District saw about 200 people for pertussis immunizations and screenings for TB, hepatitis C and HIV. Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity provided 250 people with vision screening and glasses, when necessary. The Lions Club also provided sunglasses, reading glasses, eyeglass cases and more.
In all, 335 people from 77 organizations and 130 volunteers offered free, direct services, including the Department of Social and Health Services and veterans' benefits counseling, medical and dental appointments, pet care, mental health support, haircuts, a hot meal and housing information. For the first time, two teachers were also hired for the day to provide child care.