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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Ahead of colder weather, when shelter becomes more of a necessity, Helping Hands of Springfield is partnering with healthcare organizations to build trust with local residents experiencing homelessness.
The shelter, which has a capacity of 71 for men experiencing homelessness, joined with Fifth Street Renaissance and health care organizations recently to administer COVID-19 vaccines and provide food among other services, The State Journal-Register reports.
“What we really want to do is make sure people are safe and have access to the vaccine,” said Helping Hands executive director Erica Smith. “We’re very interested, particularly with the cold weather coming, to make sure as many people as possible who you shelter are vaccinated.”
Helping Hands hosted its second vaccination clinic Oct. 6, both times partnering with the Illinois Department of Public Health. Smith said 17 people were vaccinated. During the first clinic, 85% of those sheltered at the time received a vaccine.
According to Smith, Fifth Street Renaissance also served 140 meals. The meals included chips, water, hot dogs and burgers grilled by executive director Penny Harris. She said the stop was a part of the organization’s “COVID project” that provides educational materials, screenings and meals.
Shelter workers and other volunteers went to nearby encampments to tell the resi- dents about the COVID-19 vaccine clinic and the meals. Smith said the “compliance rate goes up exponentially” .