20,000 pairs of glasses! Special hotline! How providers are helping vulnerable neighbors safely experience the eclipse

Work to help some of Multnomah County’s most vulnerable neighbors get ready for Monday’s eclipse started nearly two weeks ago, when the Multnomah County Library system first offered free pairs of sunglasses certified to keep ultraviolet rays from harming curious onlookers’ eyes.

Those glasses were all gone by Wednesday, Aug. 16., says Jeremy Graybill, the library’s marketing director. And there aren’t any more on the way.

In all, over 11 days, library workers handed out some 20,000 pairs to anyone who needed them and may not otherwise have been able to buy them on their own – providing important protection for people looking to make the most of this remarkable event. The work to give out glasses comes alongside educational exhibits and plans for community events focused on the eclipse.

"This is simply the library doing what the library does – providing learning opportunities and resources for the whole community," said Vailey Oehlke, Director of Libraries. "It just so happens that this is a once in a generation event, right in our backyard, so it's been a fun and rather unique chance to share in the experience."

But that’s hardly been the only work to ensure neighbors in our shelters and on our streets are able to safely experience Monday’s near-total eclipse in the Portland area.

Nonprofit service providers across the county are helping people obtain safe eclipse-watching glasses, sharing safety tips and warning clients to plan ahead for fallout from a surge in visitors to Oregon. Emergency management officials anticipate traffic will be dramatically affected, in addition to high demand that could lead to empty grocery shelves and long lines at gas stations.

For immediate help, our regional information clearinghouse helping people in need connect with the right services, 211info, has an eclipse hotline in place through Wednesday, Aug. 23.

Here’s a roundup of how some providers are stepping up:

211info

211info is working with Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management, Oregon Parks & Recreation, the Oregon Department of Transportation, Travel Oregon, the Oregon Health Authority, and other local and state agencies through Wednesday, Aug. 23 to provide information about where and how to view the eclipse, safety concerns, emergency preparedness, traffic, road closures, and more to people in Oregon.

Members of the public can call 211 and press 1 for “eclipse information,” text “eclipse” to 898211, or visit www.211info.org/eclipse. The hotline will run Aug. 16-23 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Bradley Angle House

Staffers have handouts at the ready and have shared glasses with all shelter participants and staff. They’ve also given advice on social media and directly with participants on how to prepare for heavy traffic, and gas and food shortages.

Cascade AIDS Project

Cascade AIDS Project is sharing safety information sent in an email this week from the Joint Office of Homeless Services, with as many clients as possible. The nonprofit is not providing glasses directly, but is directing clients to places where glasses are available.

Cascadia Behavioral Health

Cascadia is directing participants to 211 for information and is directing clients to places where glasses are available.

Central City Concern

Central City Concern is not directly giving out glasses, but it is helping clients obtain them as needed by sharing information on where to find safe, appropriate eyewear. Staff is also sharing links with information on how to safely experience the eclipse and warning clients about potential dangers.

Human Solutions

Staff at the Family Shelter in east Multnomah County and the Gresham Women’s Shelter are talking with residents about how to prepare for increased traffic and demand for food and gas, along with directing people to places where glasses are still available. Informational posters are up at both shelters.

Janus Youth

Yellow Brick Road volunteers and Janus staffers are providing information on how to safely travel to safely view the eclipse during their regular outreach rounds. They also have a limited supply of glasses to hand out to those who want them.

Neighborhood House

Neighborhood House has given glasses to all interested program participants. Staff has also distributed glasses through Neighborhood House’s food box program.

Northwest Pilot Project

Staffer at Northwest Pilot Project are sharing information one-on-one with clients and are prepared to pass out a “very limited” supply of glasses to clients.

Transition Projects

Transition Projects is preparing a safety poster for all of its facilities and shelter spaces explaining the dangers of looking directly at the sun as well as sharing resources on how to obtain glasses. Staff will share  announcements at each of Transition Projects’ facilities over the weekend and on Monday.