02 Oct North Coast Stand Down returns to Humboldt County Fairgroun…
North Coast Stand Down has been providing a place for veterans to get connected to the resources they need for 12 years. The three-day event is returning for a 13th year, but will start a day sooner, on Thursday, this year.
“We’re trying to give the service providers more time on-site,” said Kim Hall, one of the event organizers. “Rather than asking them to spend the whole weekend there, we’re asking them to put in two weekdays.”
Roughly 47 service providers and around 100 volunteers will be providing an expected 400 to 500 veterans with a host of free services over the course of the three days, Hall said. Services will range from pet care and employment assistance to dental care and clothing.
Free, pet-friendly transportation is available to and from the event for veterans and their families, with pick-up locations in McKinlevyille, Arcata, Eureka, Ferndale and Fortuna. Overnight accommodations are also available for free in barracks-style housing, with separate accommodations available for women and families.
“It’s an opportunity for folks to come to one central location and get connected to just about anything they would want to or need to,” said Clifford Lamastus, outreach coordinator with the Eureka Veterans Center. “With so many different service providers gathering at one place, people could get connected with resources they’d never heard of or knew they could benefit from.”
There are approximately 8,817 veterans in Humboldt County, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Most of the veterans in the area are Vietnam veterans (40.4%), followed by Gulf War veterans from the 1990 to 2001 period (12.7%) and Korean War veterans (9.1%).
About 9.9% had an income below the poverty line during the past 12 months while 36.9% had a disability, according to the census data.
In addition to the Eureka Veterans Center, which offers counseling, Lamastus said the Veterans Affairs clinic will also be on-site, providing flu shots and getting people enrolled in VA health care if they aren’t already.
The College of the Redwoods Veteran Resource Center will be providing information about how veterans can get their education using the GI Bill, said Michael Kuhn, a student who works at the center.
“If they’re eligible, we’ll guide them through the process,” Kuhn said, along with letting them know about the different degree programs available at the community college.
Beyond the services and resources that will be available, the event affords homeless veterans the opportunity to have a place to sleep, get three meals, and get new boots and clothes.
North Coast Stand Down takes all year to coordinate and put together, Hall said. The event is put together “mostly through grants and donations and volunteering,” she said.
Organizers could still use more volunteers, Hall said, particularly ones who can help out with pets and helping clean the kitchen.
Most of the volunteers have been helping out have been doing so since Hall started the event 13 years ago, she said, so the biggest need the event has is for “folks that want to commit to the organization.”
“We really need some new blood to come in,” Hall said.
Anyone interested in volunteering or getting involved with North Coast Stand Down, can reach the organization through its website, northcoaststanddown.org, or email the organizers at [email protected].
If you go:
What: North Coast Stand Down
Where: Humboldt County Fairgrounds, 1250 Fifth St., Ferndale
When: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 3 through Oct. 5
More information: https://www.northcoaststanddown.org/