VIU Nursing students connect with homeless

September 27, 2011 - 8:15am

Fourth-year and first-year Nursing students at Vancouver Island University are getting to know the homeless community by participating in an event called Connect Day at Maffeo Sutton Park in Nanaimo Friday, Sept. 30.

The students, enrolled in the Bachelor of Science, Nursing program (BSN), will give away ‘grab bags’ filled with toiletries and other items to the homeless between 10 am and 4 pm.

Student volunteer Heather Spaven has collected hundreds of dollars of donations to fill brown paper bags with band aids, condoms, free swim passes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, Kleenex, 7-10 club soup kitchen vouchers and other personal hygiene products.

“I’ve been very impressed with the generosity shown by individuals, local businesses and organizations,” said Spaven. “This project has strengthened my belief in the power of community spirit.”

The students will also distribute socks and gently used coats for the winter season. First-year Nursing students will be providing free footcare in the park.

Student volunteers were asked to participate in Connect Day by their instructors in VIU’s Nursing program.
Other community organizations will set up displays in the park to showcase services available to the homeless. Veterinarian service, hair care, health and dental services, legal advice, and accounting advice will also be offered free to the homeless on Connect Day.
Retired Chair of VIU’s Social Services Diploma Program John Neville is part of a city-wide working group on homelessness.

“The group was formed to make use of federal money that was allocated for low income housing,” explained Neville. “This group consisted of community, provincial and federal agencies which worked with the homeless. From the beginning, this group with the support of the City, expanded their mandate to look at the greater needs of the homeless.

Along with the identification and co-ordination of services this group started to put on special events such as Connect Day. The purpose of this event is to connect the homeless to services within the community.”

VIU’s BSN program is very much in support of providing opportunities for the community and students to get to know each other, while learning about client needs, providing services when possible, and connecting people to currently available services.

BSN instructors Piera Jung and Maureen O’Connor are keen to have students participate in and contribute to health promoting community events.

“We engage students in real projects in the community that help them learn and apply critical thinking and problem solving skills to a variety of concerns,” said O’Connor.

Connect Day will be followed by a community sleepover in the park on Saturday Oct 1.

Tags: In the Community

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