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Connecting veterans to resources: Nevada County All Veterans Stand Down holds annual outreach event

Veterans get connected with resources during Friday’s All Veterans Stand Down event held in a drive-thru format this year due to the coronavirus.
Photo: Elias Funez

Nevada County All Veterans Stand Down’s outreach event at the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Building was off to a busy start Friday.

While 100 reservations had been made prior to the event, which was set for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., around 200 people had already visited just two hours in, according to Shelly O’Connor, the organization’s board chair.

The outreach event, which connects veterans with a variety of resources, has been held since 1999, although it was canceled last year. In an effort to avoid a second year without the event, O’Connor said the group decided to modify it into the drive-thru format used Friday.



Flags representing each branch of the U.S. armed services were flown during the All Veterans Stand Down event held at the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Building.
Photo: Elias Funez

Nevada County All Veterans Stand Down had the model for a drive-thru event figured out already, noted O’Connor, as the organization has held several drive-thru lunch events for veterans during the pandemic. Free lunches were also offered Friday.

While it was different from what people were used to, said O’Connor, Friday’s event was a good opportunity for attendees to connect with services as well as see their friends.



Providers at Friday’s event included several Nevada County agencies — with Public Health, for example, offering both COVID-19 and flu vaccines — as well as a number of military and veteran-specific groups, such as VOA Veteran Services, Welcome Home Vets, Inc., Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, and California National Guard Family Programs.

Other organizations present spanned areas including legal services, disability resources, and medical and end-of-life care.

RAISING AWARENESS

Kathy Gibbons, a registered nurse with Nevada County Adult Services, was raising awareness for the department Friday, and said it is a regular participant of the annual event.

An old military Jeep was on display among other classic vehicles provided by the Roamin Angels Car Club during Friday’s All Veterans Stand Down event.
Photo: Elias Funez

According to Gibbons, some of the people she speaks to do not know about the range of services provided by Nevada County Adult Services, including the Senior Outreach Nurse program.

“People have been really receptive,” said registered nurse Erika Cobian-Mitchell with Hospice of the Foothills, adding that more people had been stopping at that booth Friday than they generally did at the walk-through style events of previous years.

Diane Barlow, volunteer coordinator with Hospice of the Foothills, explained that this could be due in part to the drive-thru format being more accessible to individuals for whom getting out of a car would be physically challenging.

According to O’Connor, during the first two hours of the event, attendees had so far shown elevated interest in legal and veteran-specific services.

Hospice of the Foothills’ Erika Cobian-Mitchell hands out information to those driving through Friday’s All Veterans Stand Down event at the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Building.
Photo: Elias Funez

“They’re really gravitating toward veterans’ organizations, because it’s been so long since they’ve seen them,“ said O’Connor.

While the organization continues to meet monthly, according to O’Connor, Nevada County All Veterans Stand Down has not done any significant fundraising over the last two years. She added that it’s an all-volunteer organization which works primarily with veterans who are homeless or at high risk, connecting them with resources such as hotel lodging and food.

O’Connor said anyone interested in volunteering with the organization can reach out at 530-278-5343.

A Vietnam veteran gets information from a booth at Friday’s All Veterans Stand Down event.
Photo: Elias Funez

Victoria Penate is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at vpenate@theunion.com


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