While the Chicago Standdown for Homeless Veterans took place during Friday, June 26th and Saturday, June 27th at the General Jones Armory, located at 5200 South Cottage Grove Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, its history has been going strong for over 20 years; since 1993 to be exact. The initial Chicago Standdown took place in Humboldt Park thanks to a group of stumbling, fumbling, bumbling, yet committed group of volunteers, veteran organizations, and community service providers planned and executed the event which was attended by 257 homeless veterans.
Ever since that very first event, the Chicago Veterans Economic Development Council, a non-profit organization, has developed a strong group of community agencies, federal agencies, veteran service organizations, corporations and volunteers that are already planning for the second of two Standdowns that will take place later this year.
The Winter Standdown typically takes place on the north side of Chicago. This event is a one day event intended to prepare homeless vets for the difficult winter months. Winter clothing and housing resources are provided at this time whereas the Summer Standdown takes place on the south side and provides a wide range of services over a two-day period of time, however, both events service an extraordinary 700-800 veterans during the time of the event.
The unexpected benefits witnessed since that very first Chicago Standdown are that the event provides veterans with a unique opportunity to reach out to fellow veterans struggling through everyday life and that service agencies that participate is such events will benefit from the networking that goes on between such agencies simply because they are able to learn more about each other and the resources that they all provide for their clients. Due to the networking capabilities, all agencies seem to be much more effective with their veteran clients year after year.
It not only takes a village to raise a child, but to help the helpless that just need a little bit of a boost. Perhaps if more individuals knew about organizations like Chicago Standdown, they would get involved; volunteer their services to help improve the lives of others – especially those that have fought for our basic everyday freedoms that we simply take for granted.
There is plenty of time to get involved in the Winter Standdown; plenty of time to make certain that veterans are ready for the cold harsh winters that Chicago doles out year after year. The human services offered will literally save lives. Join in the grassroots intervention for homeless veterans that is growing substantially in Chicago.