Chilliwack connects with its neediest

Hair stylist Kim Eeg of Undine
Hair stylist Kim Eeg of Undine's gives William Wingert a mohawk haircut during the third annual Chilliwack Connect at First Avenue Christian Assembly on Saturday morning. More than 200 volunteers came out to the event to offer free hair cuts, daycare, clothing, meals and more to those in need.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS

The hair styling, clothes, meals and foot care were all offered for free and were gratefully accepted by Chilliwack residents in need.

About 500 people attended The 3rd annual Chilliwack Connect, which linked up service volunteers, health agencies and local businesses with those struggling to survive and make ends meet.

A new set-up this year made things easier at the event held at the First Avenue Christian Assembly.

"It created a much smoother flow for people," said Councillor Stewart McLean, who sits on the event steering committee. "There was a really positive vibe throughout the building."

All of the resource people and volunteers were kept hopping for most of the day, explaining a broad range of health and social services available in Chilliwack — and most importantly, how to access them.

"It's about reaching people who wouldn't otherwise know how or where to access these types of services," said McLean.

"Every resource table saw more than 100 people each coming to see them throughout the day."

One of the key community health issues they were able to address had to do with the chronic shortage of family doctors.

It was the first time they had volunteers from the Chilliwack Community Policing office, as well as paramedics on hand, who were paired up with doctors.

"They were informing people who don't have a family doctor how to access a nurse practitioner service at Chilliwack General.

"In many cases, this would be preferable to calling for an ambulance, and tying up the resource when you don't have to," he said.

Another example was found at the kiosk staffed by Ann Davis Transition Society.

"People sometimes think the services at ADTS are strictly for women, such as the transition house service they provide, but there's more to it. There is also an emphasis on counselling and programs for the whole family."

About 800 meals were served during the breakfast and lunch hours.

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