GROUPS HELP HOMELESS
By Thomas Gase
For the second time in 2021, the Solano Dream Center and Christian Help Center did their best to show dignity for the homeless population in Vallejo.
Six months after the inaugural event, Dr. Michael Hester and a slew of organizations gave out free material to the homeless in the second-ever “Dignity Day.” During the event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. a number of items were given out for free, including mobile showers, bags of lunches, free clothes, health checks, spiritual care, mental health services and housing help.
Bus service was also provided to the event, but Hester said many people just showed up at 9 a.m. waiting to take advantage of the free material.
“We were kind of overwhelmed,” Hester said. “We started at 9 but we didn’t expect people to show up until 10 because we were sending buses out at the time. But people were lined up at 9. We just kind of winged it from there. Most were coming to get some of the freebies we had — clothes, shoes, all new. Big 5 in Fairfield and Vallejo have helped out. They didn’t donate but gave us some good prices.”
Hester said there was some differences between the event on Saturday and the first event in March. This time there was no vaccine shots and haircuts available. However, this time sleeping bags and tents were being given out and a personal assistant was available to help the homeless go through each station.
“When people come here they can be overwhelmed,” Hester said. “We don’t want people to come get clothes and then just leave immediately. With the assistant they can go to every station and see how it flows. You need to stop and talk with some of these other people. Plus, what we’re doing with it is creating relationships so they trust us when they come out to these events.”
Hester, a former pharmacist, event coordinator and current board member of the Vallejo Dream Center, was pleased to help out once again and provide “one-stop shopping for the homeless.”
Damon Bess fist-bumps volunteer Tom Daniels on Saturday as Bess carries bags containing items like new clothes and a sleeping bag given to him during Dignity Day at the Christian Help Center.
“I have gotten some personal thanks from people, but the biggest thing for me is just bringing all the providers together,” Hester said. “So the homeless can come here and get everything. They don’t have to go to all these different places. To me that’s not such a unique idea. It works in malls, shopping centers and big places like Costco. It just makes sense.”
Nairobi Kenya was helping out on behalf of the National Council for Negro Women in Vallejo.
“It just touches my heart,” Kenya said. “I wasn’t always aware this is here but to be partners in this and doing good things for the community feels great. We have a plague going on and that sometimes overshadows other health issues such as diabetes and mammograms. So we’re here to provide answers for people with questions on those health topics.”
Will Bible, the program director for Resource Connect Solano, was at the event for the second time and did his best to help answer questions about housing.
“Most people are coming up and asking, ‘What do you all do?’” Bible said. ‘How can you help me?’ The pandemic has not died down, so we’re here to provide information to people. The rental/eviction moratorium is winding down, so many people have questions about that.” Hester is hoping to continually have the event every six months and cited the good weather at the end of March and September for ideal times to host the event.
“This is something God put in my heart to do and I’m seeing the manifestation and the success of it,” Hester said. “Everyone who is here enjoys being here and they all have a heart to serve and a heart to give to those in need.”
“Most people are coming up and asking, ‘What do you all do?’ ‘How can you help me?’ The pandemic has not died down, so we’re here to provide information to people.”
— Will Bible, the program director for Resource Connect Solano
A woman enters the free mobile shower during Dignity Day at the Christian Help Center on Saturday in Vallejo.
CHRIS RILEY — TIMES-HERALD