Event for homeless veterans returns for fifth year

The annual Stand Down event at San Juan College is aimed at helping homeless veterans and those on the brink of homelessness learn about available programs and services

Noel Lyn Smith
nsmith@daily-times.com
Volunteer Bill Simkins, left, and Beverly Charley, veterans service officer at the New Mexico Department of Veterans' Services, set up on Thursday for the fifth annual San Juan County Homeless Veterans Stand Down on Friday at San Juan College's Health and Human Performance Center in Farmington.

FARMINGTON — Volunteers delivered supplies to San Juan College today in preparation for the fifth annual San Juan County Homeless Veterans Stand Down.

The event will be from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday at San Juan College’s Health and Human Performance Center in Farmington.

Beverly Charley, veterans service officer at the New Mexico Department of Veterans' Services, said the event is designed to help homeless veterans or those who are on the verge of homelessness learn about programs and services.

"Some of them may not know about the benefits or programs they may fall under," Charley said.

Among the participating services are Women Veterans of New Mexico, New Mexico Veterans Affairs Health Care System, Goodwill Industries, New Mexico Workforce Connection, Economic Council Helping Others Inc. and DNA People's Legal Services.

"This is a one stop. They're not driving all over San Juan County to get help," Charley said, adding that vans will provide transportation to and from the event in Farmington, Aztec, Bloomfield and Shiprock.

Vans will have information about the event posted on the exterior, she said.

From left, Thomas Muriel, a  Disabled Veterans Outreach Program specialist with New Mexico Workforce Connection, and Sheldon Howard, a local veterans employment representative with the agency, set up their table on Thursday for the San Juan County Homeless Veterans Stand Down at San Juan College's Health and Human Performance Center in Farmington.

Veterans can also receive a free meal and use the facility's showers, as well as receive flu shots from San Juan Regional Medical Center and haircuts from Main Barber Shop.

Regan Tafoya, owner of Main Barber Shop, said the business provided 80 to 90 haircuts last year.

"It's a good time to give back to the community," Tafoya said.

From left, Sierra Lobato, a Salvation Army store manager, and Sandra Liebel, social services director for the agency, carry boxes on Thursday as they help set up for the annual San Juan County Homeless Veterans Stand Down, which will take place Friday at San Juan College's Health and Human Performance Center in Farmington.

In one section of the gymnasium today, volunteers and community service workers from the Salvation Army unpacked gently used clothing.

Because of the number of participants, clothing will be limited to two long sleeve shirts, two T-shirts, two pants, a jacket, underwear, socks and a pair of shoes per person.

Army veteran Anita Rowe has been volunteering at the event for three years.

"I’m concerned about the veterans, and I want to do everything I possibly can to help them," she said.

For Rowe, the event displays the support community members have for veterans.

"I think the community of Farmington has been outstanding," she said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.