College hosts event for veteran resources
FARMINGTON — San Juan College will host the sixth-annual Stand Down for Homeless Veterans event from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday at the college’s Health and Human Performance Center.
The event will make local resources available to veterans in San Juan County, said David Drake, San Juan College Veteran Center Coordinator.
“It’s a place for veterans to come and they can get access – like a one-stop shop – for any kind of stuff that they really need,” Drake said. “Do they need to get enrolled in health care, do they need counselling services, do they need food – whatever it is.”
Drake said the event is focused on veterans but all community members are welcome.
Four dozen local organizations are scheduled to host booths at the event, and Brad Maxwell, Rural Veterans Program coordinator for the college’s veteran center, said he expects more resources to show up for tomorrow’s event.
Maxwell said the Veterans Center raised approximately $11,000 over the past year to provide things like a meal, clothing, hygiene products and backpacks for veteran or community members in need. Drake said the event is scheduled in October in advance of the winter weather.
Resources available cover a variety of needs, from help enrolling for insurance or getting counseling to ways to get involved in the community and haircuts.
Kay Murray, volunteer office manager with the American Red Cross chapter in Aztec, said she’s been volunteering at the event for the past two years and has found it a rewarding experience.
“It’s been very busy and very gratifying to see what the other services in the community are for these individuals, so it’s a wonderful experience,” Murray said. “Everybody’s so busy these days, we hardly meet our own neighbors, let alone people that are across town really in need.”
Several dozen volunteers helped prepare for the event Thursday afternoon in the gym, setting up tables and organizing backpacks and sleeping bags. Volunteer Clint Clark, who was helping fold clothes, said he was happy to help out.
“I think that veterans helped us out a lot,” Clark said. “…I just want to pay them back. I don’t got much, but I can help.”
Maxwell, who will be recognized as the Veteran of the Year by the Farmington veterans collaborative at the event, said the feeling is mutual for him.
“It’s an honor for me to be involved in stuff like this,” Maxwell said. “I joined the military to give back and when you leave, you kind of lose a piece of that, or I certainly did, so being involved in things like this kind of give me that feel of service back again and that helps me with some of the issues that I have.”
Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4621.