Reaching out to the homeless

Even though homelessness doesn't grab many headlines in Kitsap County, it still exists and today community homeless advocates are doing their part to not only calculate the number of homeless people locally, but also provide them much-needed services.

Operation Connect begins at the Presidents' Hall at 4 p.m. Jan. 29 and continues through 4 p.m. Jan. 30 and is being held in conjunction with the annual Point in Time homeless count, said Kitsap Community Resources community relations/development manager Kathleen Hackney.

"This is the first time we've offered this type of event, so we aren't sure," Hackney said when asked about the expected turnout for the event. "We are hoping to have 100 to 150 people attend."

Through Operation Connect, homeless people will have access to a number of service providers at one time instead of having to go to several different locations, she said.

"Some of the providers are able to offer services, others will be offering information," she said. "Folks are invited to spend the night at the Fairgrounds."

Free services, information, and free items include clothing, haircuts, meals, hygiene kits, employment referrals, medical screening, medication Management, immunization, housing options, pharmacy discount cards, counseling, food stamps, camping gear, substance abuse treatment and veteran benefits and claims, she said.

Agencies which will be present at the event include: DSHS, the Salvation Army, Kitsap Mental Health, Peninsula Community Services, United Way of Kitsap County and several other agencies across the county who help the homeless.

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