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Day of Caring Will Provide Free Health Services

Nov. 13, 2007 — The United Way of St. Thomas-St. John and Department of Human Services are joining forces to work toward ending homelessness throughout the territory, and will stage a Day of Caring at Lionel Roberts Stadium on Friday.
Planned as an annual event, the Day of Caring will offer residents access to a range of services offered by various non-profit organizations and community groups, including free testing of blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, massages and eye exams. Government agencies such as the Department of Labor and the Office of Veterans Affairs will also be available to attendees, organizers said Tuesday.
"There will also be artists, music and entertainment, but we want to stress that this is not a party event," said Cherise Creque, United Way executive director. "We want our residents to show up and do some outreach, and really show a lot of love and support for these members of our community."
The number of homeless counted on St. Thomas alone tops 400 individuals, Creque said.
"And that's just the unsheltered homeless population," she explained. "They represent about five percent of the overall homeless population across the country. But there are others that we don’t see: those individuals who are bunking up with family members or friends, who are just living paycheck to paycheck. Some are single mothers and their children. Many veterans are also homeless."
The people on the streets are the chronically homeless, Creque said.
"They are hungry and disheveled, and you can tell they need help," she said. "So we're inviting everyone — all homeless clients in every category, and families that have loved ones who are homeless — to come out and take advantage of the some of the services we're offering."
The agencies are still looking for residents to volunteer during the event, Creque said.
"Communities around the world are always looking for ways to reach out to the homeless and help them," she said. "Likewise, we are looking for volunteers who can really get out there during the event. We need people to take the clients around to the various service areas, and help them to feel welcome, because many of them have been feeling like outcasts for a very long time."
Support for the event so far has been "tremendous," with various businesses and organizations donating to the cause, Creque said. Catholic Charities Outreach, along with Dial-A-Ride, will also offer transportation to the event for those who need it.
To reserve a ride, call Dial-A-Ride at 776-1277 or Catholic Charities at 777-8518.
For any questions, or to become a volunteer or event sponsor, call the United Way of St. Thomas-St. John at 774-3185.
The event will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday.
"This is meant to be a one-stop event to provide services to individuals who are, or run the risk of becoming, homeless," Creque said. "So we're really excited about getting people educated about homelessness, as well as helping those who need these services the most."
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