Free event connects those in need

FILE PHOTO Judi Rae Rodriguez cuts Daniel Hurn's hair during a past Project Community Connect & Veteran Stand Down. This year's event, which provides free services for veterans and people who are homeless or at risk, is Saturday at the Pendleton Recreation Center.

Veterans as well as people who have low incomes or unstable housing are invited to attend the Project Community Connect & Veteran Stand Down.

The free event connects people to resources and provides on-the-spot services at no charge. In addition to a free meal, there are lots of giveaways.

The Home 4 Hope Coalition and veterans services with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and Umatilla and Morrow counties have teamed up with numerous community partners to present the event. Project Community Connect, which alternates yearly between venues in Pendleton and Hermiston, is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Pendleton Recreation Center, 510 S.W. Dorion Ave. Free transportation is available through Kayak Public Transit.

Coalition member Jaime Crowell said the group tackles issues surrounding homelessness and tries to find adequate solutions. The event, she said, offers people an opportunity to connect with services that they may need in the community.

“It’s important to have all these services in one place at one time because people may not know what services are available they might need,” Crowell said. “They can get all the information they need to fill any gaps that they have.”

Crowell and Sharon Waldern, who both work in the education department at Good Shepherd Health Care System, said it’s important to reach out to the homeless and others in need. The focus, Waldern said, isn’t necessarily to change a person’s lifestyle, but to provide assistance to help in meeting basic needs.

“We want to offer help where we can to help keep them warmer and drier and get a flu shot,” Waldern said. “Or a chance to be seen by a physician or dentist to help keep them somewhat healthy.”

Also, basic medical and dental examinations, a shower and haircuts will all be available. Screenings for colon cancer and diabetes will be conducted, and Waldern said, follow-up will be provided through St Anthony Urgent Care Clinic in Pendleton and Gifford Medical Urgent Care in Hermiston.

Also, a veterinarian will be on hand to offer services to pets of participants. In addition, a “doggie day care” will be available onsite while participants are attending the event, Crowell said.

The event, Crowell said, typically sees 200 participants. She said it’s amazing at how many people may be close to being homeless, which makes it that much more important for others to reach out and help.

“Some people live paycheck-to-paycheck and you never know when your circumstances will change,” she said.

For more information, send an email to For questions or to volunteer, call 541-667-3509.

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