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Okanagan non-profit expands team during overdose crisis

UBC Okanagan nursing students prepare for their first ride along with HOPE Outreach's new Narcan team. Global News

A local non-profit group that mainly provides support to homeless women in Kelowna and Vernon has now expanded its services in the midst of the opioid crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve decided to expand into men’s outreach with a few supplies,” said Angie Lohr, HOPE Outreach’s executive director.

“Everyone is suffering on our streets so much we felt the need to expand due to the overdose crisis.”

HOPE Outreach, which has been serving the vulnerable in Kelowna and Vernon for 12 years, is now expanding their Narcan outreach program to include both men and women.

Read more: Coronavirus: Kelowna’s Gospel Mission expands outreach program to help homeless amid pandemic

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UBC Okanagan has partnered with the non-profit to give their nursing students working experience. 

Fourth-year UBC Okanagan nursing student Daniel Maurice says the work experience is something he’s been looking forward to.

“I’m really excited for the shadow shift tonight. We’re going out into the community, talking to these people and trying to address their needs,” said Maurice.

“I’m ecstatic, I want to get to know the community. It’s really sweet that we’re going to be able to help people.”

Read more: Coronavirus: Okanagan post-secondary students adapting to ‘new normal’

Wednesday is the first night for the new outreach team, who will be circulating on Kelowna streets, reaching out to vulnerable men.

They supply resources like Naloxone kits, clothing and safe sex supplies. 

HOPE Outreach also helps people connect with housing, recovery and health service providers.

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