Eugene, Ore. – Eugene may not be on everyone’s map, but we are known for a few things. Locals and non-locals alike refer to Eugene as the Home of the Ducks or Track Town USA. We are also known for our ever prevalent homeless community. You can find them holding signs on almost every major street corner in Eugene/Springfield. Varying in age, race, gender and background, Eugene’s homeless population has one thing in common…..they need our help.
According to last year’s One Night Homeless Count (done by Lane County), over 3,467 people are homeless or living in temporary shelters on any given night in Lane County. This count does not include the hundreds of families who are “hidden away” moving between family and friends, living in cars or facing imminent threat of eviction. To me, that is a depressingly large number of Lane County residents who have unmet basic human needs for safety, food, stability and shelter.
In an effort to help Lane County’s homeless population, the fifth annual Project Homeless Connect for Lane County event is set for Thursday, March 17 at the Lane Events Center and Fairgrounds. This is one of the area’s largest homeless outreach events. Organizers of the event are not only aiming to help the local homeless, but to engage the entire community in a powerful event that generates awareness and provides solutions that work toward ending homelessness.
The one-day event offers homeless people (or those at risk of homelessness) access to critical services as well as basic necessities. Among the services offered are free on-site medical exams, dental checkups, vision care, hot meals, haircuts and basic provisions. In addition, more than 80 local service agencies provide information on housing, employment, education, legal counsel, addiction treatment and a variety of other services available for youth, families, seniors and veterans.
Last year the event was a success with 1,402 guests served with the help of 581 community volunteers and 301 professional service providers. 970 people received services or info for families with children and 1,310 personal hygiene kits were given away. This year, with the event two weeks away, organizers say donations are down. Supplies such as coats, sleeping bags, backpacks, children’s clothing, socks (new) and various hygiene products, such as shampoo or soap (new only) are desperately needed.
If you are interested in helping, donations may be dropped off at any St. Vincent de Paul store location throughout the county. Items must be labeled “Project Homeless Connect.” Financial contributions may also be made through United Way of Lane County 3171 Gateway Loop, Springfield, Oregon 97477 or at www.unitedwaylane.org.
For more information about Project Homeless Connect, visit www.homelessconnect.org.
Post Author: lindsey_asay