CLEVELAND - HandsOn Northeast Ohio hosted the 22nd annual Homeless Stand Down event Saturday in Cleveland.
The event took place at the Cleveland Public Auditorium, located at 500 Lakeside Avenue.
Members from over 200 agencies, community organizations and congregations pprovided guests with breakfast and lunch, winter clothing, personal care items, medical screenings, haircuts, live entertainment and activities as well as connections to social service agencies.
Hygiene products and cleaning supplies were the most prevalent needs for the increased number of guests anticipated at the event.
A second Stand Down for Homeless event will take place Sunday, Feburary 3rd.
"CareVans" will provide similiar services (e.g. haircuts, bagged lunches, winter clothing, etc.) at various shelters, rapid re-housing facilities and transitional housing sites around Northeast Ohio.
The original Stand Down for homeless veterans was modeled after the Stand Down concept used during the Vietnam War to provide a safe retreat for units returning from combat operations. At a secure base camp, troops were able to shower, get clean uniforms, enjoy warm meals, receive medical and dental care, and send and receive letters from home. Stand Down gave battle-weary soldiers the opportunity to respite, renewal and reconnection to family and friends. The first domestic Stand Down was held in San Diego in 1988 as an outreach initiative to homeless veterans.
The first Homeless Stand Down in Cleveland was held in the summer of 1991 at the Cuyahoga Community College Metropolitan Campus. Since the beginning, the Cleveland HSD has been unique in that the event welcomes all citizens facing homelessness (individuals and families), not just homeless veterans.
In the fall of 2000, The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless partnered with InerAct Cleveland to host Cleveland's one-day Homeless Stand Down, and since then InterAct Cleveland took the major role in coordinating the event.
With InterAct Cleveland's closing in January 2012, the Homeless Stand Down is now housed with HandsOn Northeast Ohio, and is a collaboration of over 200 faith-based organizations, social service agencies, and community and corporate partners.
Participating agencies included Cleveland Department of Public Health, Department of Veterans Affairs, Care Alliance Health Center, MedWorks, Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, Volunteers of America, Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry, and the Cleveland Photographic Society. Coats for Kids also continues to be a supporter for the Stand Down events.
A event organizer said that 1,238 people were assisted at Saturday's event.