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From medical treatment to art therapy, Cleveland event serves those experiencing homelessness

Volunteers help an attendee select a pair of shoes at the 2023 Homeless Stand Down.
Business Volunteers Unlimited
Attendees can receive shoes, hygiene products, haircuts and more at the Homeless Stand Down on April 20, 2024, at Cleveland Public Auditorium.

An event for people experiencing homelessness will provide medical care, meals and more at Cleveland Public Auditorium on Saturday, April 20.

Business Volunteers Unlimited's Homeless Stand Down supports unsheltered people with a variety of essential goods and services from 91 providers. Attendees can get medical screenings, vaccines, dental work, hygiene products, haircuts and clothing. They'll also receive a hot meal.

The event, now in its 33rd year, also aims to connect attendees with resources that can help them long-term, such as voter registration, substance abuse treatment and legal aid.

"We're trying to provide things that can be lifesaving, basic medical services, and then also they can find out where they can go after the day of the event to get that continued care that they need," said Ann Cancelliere, Business Volunteer Unlimited's senior coordinator of business and community engagement.

Yoga, reiki and an art therapy station where attendees can create artwork will be also be offered.

"It's a place for people to come in for respite and reconnecting with people, to take a breath and relax, get what they need and enjoy the day," Cancelliere said.

Event organizers are expecting around 900 attendees and more than 400 volunteers, Cancelliere added. Last year's event served more than 750 attendees.

Homeless Stand Down
Business Volunteers Unlimited
The 2024 Homeless Stand Down is scheduled for April 20, 2024, at Cleveland Public Auditorium.

Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb is also expected to attend the event. In February, Bibb announced his new “A Home for Every Neighbor” initiative to support Cleveland's unsheltered community.

Stand Down events, which were named after the military term in which soldiers received care at a base camp, happen nationally. They were first targeted toward military and veterans, but have since expanded to support people who are housing insecure, Cancelliere said.

More than 5,000 people in Cuyahoga County experience homelessness, according to Business Volunteers Unlimited.

"If you can help one person get out of a really bad situation ... and get them on the right path to getting help, I think that's a success," Cancelliere said.

Stephanie Metzger-Lawrence is a digital producer for the engaged journalism team at Ideastream Public Media.