Charles Fawcett Jr. looks at backpacks provided by Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska in the Marine Parking Garage on Saturday, Nov. 28. The parking garage was the site of Juneau Street Warming event meant to provide on-the-spot assistance to people experiencing homelessness. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Over 100 attend street warming event

Refreshments and cold weather gear given to people experiencing homelessnes

Charles Fawcett Jr. leaned toward the heater while the wind whipped almost-frozen precipitations outside the parking garage.

“I’m doing very good,” Fawcett said. “I’ve got everything I need right now.”

Fawcett, who said he has been living on the streets but does not consider himself to be homeless, was among the dozens of people who turned out Saturday morning for a Juneau Street Warming event held in the Marine Parking Garage below the Downtown Public Library.

Charles Fawcett Jr. warms up near a heater in the Marine Parking Garage on Saturday, Nov. 28. The parking garage was the site of Juneau Street Warming event meant to provide on-the-spot assistance to people experiencing homelessness. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Charles Fawcett Jr. warms up near a heater in the Marine Parking Garage on Saturday, Nov. 28. The parking garage was the site of Juneau Street Warming event meant to provide on-the-spot assistance to people experiencing homelessness. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

“This is about meeting the needs where we can,” said Tina DeAsis-Wright, program coordinator for Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition, in an interview ahead of Juneau Street Warming.

The event, which featured many of the same organizations that participate in the annual Homeless Connect program in an open-air setting to mitigate risk of spreading COVID-19, was well-attended.

“It wasn’t even 10 o’ clock yet, and there was already a line,” said Cecilia Bagoyo, benefits technician for Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.

DeAsis-Wright estimated over 100 people attended the event, which was scheduled for 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

In addition to the quasi-outdoors setting, all organizers and volunteers and nearly all attendees wore masks, and a sign-in sheet was used. Sign-in sheets can aid in contact tracing in the event an attendee of an event later tests positive for COVID-19.

[Inside passages closes with frank suicide discussion]

Sponsors of the event included Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition, National Alliance on Mental Illness Juneau, Rainforest Recovery Center and Community Navigators, Tlingit & Haida , SEARHC, Front Street Clinic, Family Promise, Zach Gordon Youth Center, Society of St. Vincent de Paul Juneau, AWARE, Juneau Reentry Coalition, ROCK Juneau, Heritage Coffee Roasting Co., Rapid Response PPE, Western Auto Marine, Gas-N-Go and Juneau U-Haul.

Kaitlyn Conway, youth outreach coordinator with the Zach Gordon Youth Center, talks to people who identified themselves as Vivian and Al, Saturday in the Marine Parking Garage. About 60 people had turned out to the event to provide on-the-spot assistance to people experiencing homelessness within its first hour, according to organizers. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Kaitlyn Conway, youth outreach coordinator with the Zach Gordon Youth Center, talks to people who identified themselves as Vivian and Al, Saturday in the Marine Parking Garage. About 60 people had turned out to the event to provide on-the-spot assistance to people experiencing homelessness within its first hour, according to organizers. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Tables staffed by people from sponsoring organizations and volunteers offered help with paperwork and goods. Items and services available included onsite assistance with applications for medical insurance, housing and tribal service; goods such as ice cleats, waterproof pants, backpacks and water bottles; refreshments; and a place to warm up on a cold day.

Aaron Surma, executive director of NAMI Juneau, said the turnout to the event exceeded his expectations, and DeAsis-Wright, estimated over 100 total people attended the event.

“There’s clearly demand,” he Surma said. “It’s more than I expected.”

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.

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