JFCS of Suncoast to host 12th Annual Stand Down event on Sept. 23

Goal is to help homeless veterans become self-sufficient

Volunteers help fill rucksacks for a Stand Down event. Image courtesy JFCS of the Suncoast

JFCS of the Suncoast, which is based in Sarasota, will host its 12th annual Stand Down event at the Sarasota Fairgrounds from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 23, the nonprofit organization has announced.

The fairgrounds are located at 3000 Ringling Blvd. in Sarasota.

Representatives of dozens “of community partners, including small and large businesses, and local and state agencies will be on hand to assist homeless veterans in receiving medical care” and to work with them on eligibility requirements for housing and employment, a news release points out.

“We value all the help we get with our community partners and volunteers,” George Maggio, JFCS’s director of veteran services, says in the release. “It takes a small village to help a homeless veteran gather the strength they need to become self-sufficient once again.”

Stand Down is a free event created to provide “a day of relief, support, and assistance to those who have served in the armed forces and who now need a helping hand,” the release adds. This year, JFCS leaders and staff expect more than 100 homeless veterans to attend the event, the release notes.

“The day will start with an opening ceremony honoring those who’ve served. Each veteran will have access to multiple health services and free screenings and will also be given a large rucksack filled with toiletries, clothing, boots, undergarments, personal items, and non-perishable foods,” the release points out. During the event, it continues, a drawing will be conducted for gift cards that will provide additional help for the veterans.

Among the many services available during Stand Down, the release points out, local judges will be present to help veterans learn whether they may have charges dropped at Veterans Amnesty Court, which would enable them to more readily apply for rental properties.

Further, during Stand Down, the release says, each veteran is able to visit representatives of at least 10 social service agencies and engage in wellness activities, such as dental care and substance use treatment options.

Many positive outcomes for homeless veterans are achieved at Stand Down, the release adds. Last year, for example, the release notes, “a particularly young homeless veteran” was assisted in becoming and remaining both employed and housed — “his life and future now filled with hope and promise.”

The main objective in JFCS’ hosting this Stand Down event “is to empower individuals to become self-sufficient,” the release says.

For more information on the JFCS Stand Down event, call 941-366-2224, Ext. 164.