Almost four dozen of the community’s most vulnerable residents were made to feel special at the first Aldergrove Connect event on March 8.
“We had 45 people turn up, which was more than we expected, and it went really well,” said Valerie Hiebert, who was exhausted but pleased after the event.
Along with Maggie Haber, Darlene Isaak and Danise Breederland, Hiebert and a large group of volunteers provided everything from haircuts and pedicures to lunches and income tax services to the vulnerable, poor and homeless men and women who turned up.
“We put the word out through the Aldergrove Food Bank, which Darlene (Isaak) manages,” said Hiebert. “She knows who needs the extra help in the community and she got most of the people we hosted at the event.”
The Vinyard Church, which also provides space for the Food Bank, hosted the Connect event at their AV Centre, 27309 Fraser Highway.
Aldergrove Connect provided community and public health nurses who administered immunizations and flu shots and checked blood pressure and glucose levels for the guests.
There were also outreach services by the government and agencies, such as Stepping Stone society, Ministry of Social Development, Langley Mental Health and Substance Use Services and Gateway of Hope, among others.
“Crystal Hearing had their hearing testing van here and said they would help 15 people get their hearing aids funded,” said Hiebert.
“And the Aldergrove Reformed Church provided the free lunches, which was much appreciated.”
Hiebert also was thankful to the donors who provided gifts for “goodie bags” that were handed out.
“All of the donors and supporters: Pearce Home Hardware, Starbucks, Safeway, Mark’s, Abbotsford Food Bank, Save-On-Foods and Wilway Lumber, were so generous,” said Hiebert.
The purpose of this free event was to enable the impoverished and homeless to meet and talk with representatives from organizations that provide financial services, housing information, medical care, shelter knowledge, mental health care, basic hygiene care, and drug rehabilitation services.
Hiebert, who has previously worked in Hong Kong helping heroin addicts get through detox, became involved in organizing the Aldergrove Connect event after meeting outreach worker Fraser Holland of Starting Point at an opioid treatment training class.
“It went really well. I’m sure we’ll do this again, perhaps as an annual event,” said Hiebert.