A Day of Respite

Citrus Heights, CA (MPG)  |  By Elise Spleiss - Photos Courtesy of The City of Citrus Heights
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Dr. Melissa Noakes (left) shown here with technician Amanda Yarrington from the Citrus Heights Mercy Pet Hospital provided vaccines, booster shots, micro chipping and other pet supplies to help homeless veterans keep their best fur friends healthy.

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Over two dozen members of management and other staff from Thunder Valley Casino Resort spent the day preparing and serving breakfast and lunch for the veterans and Stand Down volunteers.

Local Homeless Veterans Get a Day of Respite at Citrus Heights Stand Down

The Citrus Heights Homeless Assistance Resource Team (HART) in cooperation with American Legion Post 637 recently collaborated with the City of Citrus Heights and the surrounding community to hold the first annual Citrus Heights Veterans Stand Down at Holy Family Catholic Church on Auburn Blvd.

According to the Sacramento Stand Down Association, “Stand Down refers to a grassroots, community-based intervention program designed to help the nation’s thousands of homeless veterans on any given night to “combat” life on the streets.”

At the Citrus Heights event HART provided wrap-around services to 67 in-need veterans including housing, employment, medical, legal, clothing and food for people who have served their country. A highlight of the day was the delicious breakfast and lunch prepared and served to their guests and event volunteers by the chefs and staff of the Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln.  General Manager, Dawn Clayton said she “feels blessed to give back to the local community and to the veterans who have served their country.”

The U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) states that the nation’s homeless suffer from mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse or co-occurring disorders. Many of them are homeless, having served in one or more wars or conflicts from World War II to the present, including the military’s anti-cultivation efforts in South America.

Nearly half of homeless veterans served during the Vietnam era. Two-thirds served our country for at least three years, and one-third were stationed in a war zone.

The Citrus Heights Stand Down assisted homeless and struggling veterans along with their canine companions to get the services and help they need.  Animal care services were provided by the City of Citrus Heights Animal Control Service Officer Rueben Hernandez who partnered with Mercy Pet Hospital to provide vaccines, booster shots, micro chipping and other pet supplies.

Especially popular was the hygiene van provided by ‘The Way’ Riderz Motorcycle Ministry, where veterans were able to receive a shower and a haircut.  Volunteers handed out clothing including jeans, beanies, gloves, socks and jackets.  Veterans also received military grade sleeping bags and duffle bags.

Some of the twenty-eight service providers anxious to serve this day include the Salvation Army, Sacramento Food Bank, Northern California VA Healthcare System, the Social Security Administration, Sacramento County Veteran’s Service Office, Blue Star Moms of Northern California, Sacramento Veteran’s Center, Loaves and Fishes and more.

This public/private sector partnership was supported by Thunder Valley Casino Resort, Sacramento Self Help Housing, City of Citrus Heights, Citrus Heights Police, Holy Family Catholic Church, the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Sunrise Marketplace and several others.

Knowing that many Stand Downs cover two days or more, Duane Wright, Respite Program Manager for TLCS was especially impressed by all the providers who came out to help the veterans for just one day.

Of special note, 131 volunteers from the Citrus Heights community came out in force, particularly from the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.      

One event volunteer, Mrs. Martha Roth approached the Sacramento Self Help Housing table at the Stand Down to thank the organization and tell about her success. Mrs. Roth came back this year as a volunteer to show her support and gratitude. The following is her success story: “Thirteen years ago my husband, a Vietnam Veteran, and I were homeless. We felt hopeless and didn’t know where to turn. Another veteran we knew suggested we attend a Stand Down in Sacramento. At the Stand Down we were able to get help obtaining housing at a rent we could afford. If it had not been for this, I’m not sure where we would be today.”

For general information on Citrus Heights HART contact Kathilynn Carpenter at kathilynncarpenter@sunrisemarketplace.com or 916-769-5615.

Dr. Melissa Noakes (left) shown here with technician Amanda Yarrington from the Citrus Heights Mercy Pet Hospital provided vaccines, booster shots, micro chipping and other pet supplies to help homeless veterans keep their best fur friends healthy.Over two dozen members of management and other staff from Thunder Valley Casino Resort spent the day preparing and serving breakfast and lunch for the veterans and Stand Down volunteers.“Volunteers from the Church of Latter Day Saints set-up hundreds of Stand Down give-aways including jeans, jackets, socks, beanies and military grade sleeping bags and duffle bags.”