FERNDALE, CA—The Annual North Coast Stand Down kicked off Thursday morning at the Humboldt Fairgrounds in Ferndale.
Vietnam vets in San Diego created stand downs to help homeless veterans.
“So they started relief efforts, they took services to the streets and so out of that became stand downs where they would find a venue like the fairgrounds,” Kim Hall the President & founder of North Coast Stand Down said. “They would bring all the services to the fairgrounds and the vets would come to one place and access all those services for free. We’ve been out here at the fairgrounds for 17 years, and all of the community and the agencies and the organizations come in and they provide services.”
Those services include health care, education, overnight stays, free clothing, hair cuts, pet services, and–free food served three times a day. Branden Nichols, the food coordinator explained how he prepares for the Stand Down.
“Basically, take your at home dinner and multiply it by 50 and that’s what we have to put out here in an unfamiliar kitchen with unfamiliar equipment and it takes a whole team,” Nichols said. “We normally have about ten people in and out of the kitchen at all times, you know, when there’s a need that we have to get people out here to fill that need. and so i’ve been helping here for about six or seven years. and yeah, i haven’t stopped.”
Frank Hunt, a combat vet, has been working as the transportation coordinator at the stand down for 15 years, making sure the veterans who don’t have a way to get to the fairgrounds are able to come.
“A lot of these guys are out in the field, you know, they never never came back from Vietnam,” Hunt said. “So this is a great thing for them to do, they feel comfortable around other vets. They don’t feel like they’re being pushed, there’s a world of difference there.”