First-year medical student Evan Pappas of Albany checks the blood pressure of Stephen Donohue. (Mark Ylen/Democrat-Herald)

Event offers resources for homeless people

The 2013 HEART to Heart Resource Fair set two  records this year, for the number of visitors and the number of participating agencies.

One hundred sixty-four people toured the eighth annual fair at the Boys & Girls Club of Albany, up from about 130 or so last year, said Marilyn Smith, spokeswoman for the city of Albany and the city’s representative on the board for the Homeless Enrichment and Rehabilitation Team.

Forty-two agencies set up booths, up from about 30 last year. They offered haircuts, new socks, bicycle tuneups, blood pressure checks, and piles of information about job interviews, housing, disability services and health care.

Oregon DMV representatives stayed busy helping people fill out applications for birth certificates and Oregon identification cards, while SuperCuts gave 51 haircuts, Linn County Public Health gave 16 whooping cough vaccinations, and the dental clinic saw 14 patients.

Time ran out for two waiting patients, Smith said, so arrangements were made to get them care through the Albany InReach Clinic.

Smith said almost 100 people came in the first hour of the five-hour fair. Two hours before the doors opened, she said, one man was waiting to have two painful teeth examined.

“I think the number of people who showed up is an ongoing indication of the need,” Smith said.

New agencies this year included Living Well with Chronic Conditions, the Physicians Referral Network, COMP-Northwest, and a Samaritan Health Services outreach program SCREEN, which provides screenings for breast and cervical cancer through grants from the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Oregon Health & Science University.

Stefan Christisen, a medical student with COMP-Northwest, volunteered to give visitors tips on making a good impression at job interviews.

He worked four years as a manager at a Subway restaurant in Vancouver, Wash., and learned a great deal about what employers are seeking: “Make sure that they are dressing appropriately, acting appropriately, putting together an appropriate resume,” he said.

HEART and the Community Services Consortium put on the fair. It began in June 2006 as a way to provide resources to homeless men and women displaced when the city of Albany cleared out a long-established camp in Simpson Park.

HEART’s board of directors includes representatives of local health and human service agencies, homeless shelters and advocates, the city of Albany, faith-based organizations and Albany businesses.

Smith thanked the Boys & Girls Club for being the host and all the participating agencies, noting that all the work is volunteer.

“We don’t spend money on it. People just bring their stuff and they spend their time and they make it happen,” she said. “That’s just Albany. That’s just what Albany does.”

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Jennifer Moody is the education reporter for the Democrat-Herald. She can be reached at 541-812-6113 or jennifer.moody@lee.net.