Hundreds of Northwest Louisiana homeless received free medical services and assistance in downtown Shreveport on Monday afternoon.
Baruti Ajanaku, who calls Shreveport home, took advantage of the free services on Monday. "I needed some clothes, needed some shoes; I needed some food." Those were only some of the services that volunteers from Operation Stand Down offered to the homeless and veterans.
Homeless Program Coordinator at Overton Brooks V-A Medical Center, Carolyn Green told us that numerous social service agencies had booths to provide services and information like Social Security and V-A benefits. Nurses from Northwestern Nurse Practitioner Program were also on hand on Monday to provide medical check-ups and physicals for anyone who needed the health services.
Green said that the volunteers of Operation Stand Down want the homeless to know that they are available to help them and provide services for them. But if they cannot provide the services themselves, "we definitely can point them in the right direction to where they can find out that information," Green explained.
About 250 volunteers will be helping throughout the two days of Operation Stand Down including volunteers from local churches. Barbara Johnson from Faith Tabernacle helped put together sack lunches for the homeless, since they often do that for the Hope House. They included sandwiches, chips and dessert. "We put in a little package of peanut butter crackers, so they'll have something to eat later on," said Johnson.
Those who came out to enjoy the free services seemed to appreciate the opportunity to gather some necessities to help make the chilly Winter nights more comfortable. Ajanaku said that he was gracious for this event because he especially needed a coat. "You should always be grateful and thankful that we're in a country with such a giving people," he said.
Operation Stand Down continues Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in downtown Shreveport.