By Ellen Zacarias and Souriya (Joe) Maniwan
Caption: (From left to right): Souriya (Joe) Maniwan, Steve Aguirre, Kim Mitchell (VVSD President & CEO), Dawn Regner
Robin, a homeless veteran, lives with her dog throughout downtown San Diego. She became homeless shortly after her husband passed away. “It’s nothing to be sorry about,” she said. “It is what it is.” She came to Stand Down to receive some services and food for herself and her dog, and a hot shower. Robin is one of over 800 homeless veterans who benefitted from the annual Stand Down event hosted by Veterans Village of San Diego.
Veterans Village of San Diego (VVSD), SDPA’s Charity of the Choice for 2017-2018, hosted their annual Stand Down event at San Diego High School’s athletic track field on June 29 through July 1, 2018. Started in 1988, the Stand Down event was created to give homeless veterans a chance to rest, eat, shower, and receive services while others stand watch.
Constructed in a circle around the athletic field, multiple tents offer services to veterans. At one tent, veterans can pick up free clothes. At another, they can receive medical or dental services from medical volunteers. Volunteer hair stylists also cut and shave hair. Substance abuse counseling and rehabilitation services are also offered. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served. In the evenings, bunks are set up within tents to provide a place for homeless veterans to sleep. Veterans apply for the in-house rehabilitation program, which provides housing and job training resources for candidates. For veterans with pets, there is a pet sitting area that offers food and care for pets while their owners receive services.
Several SDPA members volunteered at Stand Down 2018, assisting with different facets of the event, such as SDPA Board Director Souriya (Joe) Maniwan, ACP along with community projects coordinator Jonathan Thackston (JT) who welcomed incoming volunteers at the check-in tables. SDPA Pro Bono Director Dawn Regner, CP assisted with guiding volunteers to the appropriate station. Pro Bono Committee members Ellen Zacarias and Steven Aguirre provided services such as Hygiene and data entry.
SDPA is proud to support homeless and low-income veterans at the Veterans Village of San Diego (VVSD)’s annual Stand Down event. All of this is made possible thanks to VVSD’s president and CEO Kimberly Mitchell, director Darcy Pavich, and community projects coordinator Jonathan Thackston (JT), and with the help of volunteers and sponsoring organizations. VVSD provides rehabilitation and employment services to military veterans, such as those who are coming back from military service in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Caption: SDPA Board Director Souriya (Joe) Maniwan welcomes incoming volunteers at the entrance.
Caption: SDPA member Ellen Zacarias (second from left), with fellow volunteers at the women’s showers, where homeless veteran women receive access to hot showers along with zipper-locked bags of toiletries, razors, and hygiene supplies. Some services, such as haircutting, require a shower before the recipient can receive them.