Over 300 people attended the Helping Hand Resource Fair Sept. 16, proving to organizers there’s a need for this resource in Strathmore.
Held at the Civic Centre in Strathmore, the event showcased the various resources all in one place for those in need or those looking for community services or information. The fair also served as a place for different agencies to network and possibly work together to help those in need.
Richard Rodgers, director of outreach at the Strathmore Overnight Shelter and resource fair organizer, stated that he is committed to helping those in need.
“We just want to help more and more each time we host the event,” Rodgers said. He acknowledged there was a lot of networking at the event and a lot of people were helped.
The clothing store was a huge hit, as attendees were able to pick out a free bag of clothing from amongst a very wide selection for all ages. Rodgers surmised more people accessed the clothing store compared to the last resource fair in January.
Pastor Elizabeth Karp from the Harvest Healing Centre Church gave out a large amount of free bread and bread products to homeless people as well as those who have fallen upon hard economic times.
The pastor revealed some homeless people “are sleeping in their vehicles and they don’t really know to access services, so it’s really good for them [services] to all be under one place so we can work together and people can see what’s available in the community.”
Pastor Dawn Nelson of the Lord of Lutheran Church also volunteered at the resource fair and recognized the importance of the fair. “I think it lets people know that we have more resources than people assume. Strathmore really has a lot going for it but a lot of it is kind of hidden, so this [the fair] brings it out.”
The Town of Strathmore, Mayor Michael Ell, No Frills owner Tina Shipley and Pastor Elizabeth Karp were presented with certificates of appreciation. “The resource fair is a great idea in regards to just assisting people at a time that they need it. It’s a big benefit for our community,” said Ell.
The resource fair featured guest motivational speakers Ruth Scalp Lock, Michelle Robinson and Genet Mehari, all identified as strong individuals who have overcome hardships and are capable of motivating others.
Various local businesses donated items and gift cards which were distributed at the fair. In addition, hygiene packs donated by the Travelodge and dentist offices and including essentials such as toothpaste, soap and shampoo, were distributed.
Approximately 60 per cent of the available free clothing was taken and the rest will go to the Women in Need Society and the Calgary Drop-In Centre. However, clothing is still available for town residents if needed.
The Red Cross came to the resource fair for the first time, and the Legion and the Strathmore Seniors Happy Gang joined together to help seniors. In addition, there was an artist doing free character art and this was a popular service with a big lineup.
Rodgers is looking ahead to the future and hopes to continue and improve upon the resource fair.
“Eventually I think there will be a higher turnout. Every time it gets bigger and bigger,” he said.