For Double DD Meats, donating food for community groups is business as usual. “I make so many donations, it’s hard to keep track of them,” said Kim Nygard, owner of the butcher shop in Mountlake Terrace. “We’ve been doing this for 30 years – probably one donation a day.”
Their contribution of 40 pounds of sliced turkey helped Project Homeless Connect serve 1,200 meals at a day-long event in Everett last week. Snohomish County social service organizations and a host of other groups joined forces to serve meals along with providing a full-range of free services to 1,202 individuals and their families at the outreach event.
Participants had their choice of soup or salad and turkey, chicken or sausage to go with the pasta, bread, sautéed vegetables and coffee, water or juice. Silvana Meats, Campbell StockPot and Cactus Restaurant also made significant contributions of food.
Snohomish 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.” It was a theme that was repeated throughout the day: treating people with dignity and respect.
For Chalanda and her eight year old son, Alasan, the event at Cascade High School was the first time they were able to get a housing voucher. According to Chalanda, it will “give her an opportunity to get back to work.” She asked organizers to “please keep helping people” and added, “I am just so thankful.”
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 (38%) were homeless children under the age of 18.
In another first, 1,200 pairs of sneakers were donated by Brooks Sports and handed out by Redeeming Soles. YWCA of Seattle-King-Snohomish distributed 941 bags and backpacks filled with toiletries. Thirty hairstylists provided 267 haircuts to young and old, alike. Everett Animal Shelter provided pet care for 132 dogs and cats. Also for the first time, denturists were on hand to repair 80 dentures on-site. Two mobile dental clinics provided more extensive dental care.
In all, 335 people from 77 organizations and 130 volunteers offered free, direct services including 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.