BELLINGHAM - As many as 500 people could seek help through the sixth annual Project Homeless Connect, a one-day event to bring a wide array of free services to the needy.
The event for the poor and the homeless will begin at 9 a.m. Friday, July 25, at Bellingham High School, 2020 Cornwall Ave.
At least 187 people have signed up as volunteers for the annual effort.
"Our community does an outstanding job when it comes to responding to a need like this," said Dan Hammill, program director for The Volunteer Center of Whatcom County and one of the event organizers.
The services being offered will be confidential.
They will include a table-service lunch, screenings for vision and hearing, medical exams, dental care, women's health care, information on veterans' benefits, legal aid and housing help.
"We have a great set of providers again this year," Hammill said.
A total of 550 people received services at last year's event. Services that were most in demand included dental care, vision care, veterans care as well as hair cuts.
Those needs are expected to be in high demand again this year.
Organizers said offering help in a way that's welcoming also helps people who feel that society has forgotten them or left them behind.
"It shows them that the community does care about them. We think that's important," said Greg Winter, director of the Whatcom Homeless Service Center and a member of the Project Homeless Connect steering committee.
Bringing in a large group of volunteers from the community also is important because it will help them learn more about the issue and the people.
"(The purpose) is to help people who are not part of the social services world get to know people who are experiencing homelessness," Winter said.
Project Homeless Connect will run 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, July 25, at Bellingham High School, 2020 Cornwall Ave.
FREE BUS SERVICE
Whatcom Transportation Authority will provide free bus rides - except on Route 80X serving Mount Vernon - Thursday and Friday, July 24-25, for all passengers countywide to help people get to the event.