Twenty nine RSVP volunteers partnered with Disabled American Veterans (the DAV) in Cold Spring to make the 2017 Homeless Veterans Stand Down a huge success on Friday. 17 RSVP volunteers spent several hours stuffing 300 backpacks in preparation for the event with clothing, blankets, toiletries, and snacks that were donated from local businesses, civic organizations, and the DAV. Volunteers carefully loaded the backpacks and kept all 300 backpacks in size order, from small to 4X so all veterans would have size appropriate clothing. The weather was sunny and warm for this special day of services for homeless veterans, beginning with an opening ceremony, social service agency assistance, medical services, financial services, benefit services, and much more! Breakfast was served to over 200 veterans with the assistance of three long-time RSVP Stand Down volunteers. Other RSVP volunteers assisted beauticians by sweeping up hair and thanking veterans as they left with fresh new haircuts. Another group of repeat Stand Down RSVP volunteers greeted and signed in other eager volunteers to assist the DAV for this event. Additional RSVP volunteers baked and packaged 700 chocolate chip cookies and made thank you cards to attach to the cookie bags so veterans could end their day with a treat to help create that “sense of home”.
Stand Downs are one part of the Department of Veterans Affairs' efforts to provide services to homeless veterans such as food, shelter, clothing, health screenings, VA and social security benefits counseling, and referrals to a variety of other necessary services, such as housing, employment, and substance abuse treatment. The first Stand Down was organized in 1988 by a group of Vietnam Veterans in San Diego. Since then, Stand Downs have been used as an effective tool in connecting to homeless veterans, reaching more than 200,000 veterans and their family members between 1994 and 2000.
The DAV reports that 229 homeless veterans in the tri-state area were served by the October 6, 2017 Stand Down in Cold Spring, KY.