FARMINGTON — San Juan County's homeless veterans will get a "hand up" for the second year in a row.
Local veterans' advocates are organizing the second annual San Juan County Stand Down on Friday, Oct. 25. Last year's event was considered a success.
Although organizers hope to expand the event, a stagnant economy could make fundraising and donation collection a significant challenge.
"We need to provide hot meals, water, advertisements and fuel for transportation," said Beverly Charley, a local veterans employment representative for the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions. "This year, we're looking at doubling our numbers. We want to get 100 veterans and 200 non-veterans."
But providing for those numbers could be a challenge.
"Food (cost) has gone up," she said.
Charley is sending out letters to local businesses and large corporations, to ask for donations and support. She has also applied for a grant from the Farmington Community Relations Commission.
But funding could be scarce.
The commission, which is charged with addressing race and cultural relations in Farmington, saw its funding cut in half this fiscal year, which began on July 1, to $10,000.
The commission will consider the grant application for approval at its Aug. 5 meeting, said George Francis, the commission's chairman pro tem.
"We'd like to give the full amount we can -- $800 -- but it could be difficult because of the budget reduction," he said.
Nevertheless, Francis said the commission supports the stand down and its efforts to assist homeless veterans.
A "stand down," in military terminology, is when a soldier is sent back from the front lines for rest, medical checks, a hot meal and a shower before being sent back to fight.
"It's a great event," Francis said. "It's something that the community as a whole needs to embrace, not to give a hand out but a hand up."