A Little Help: Resource fair aids homeless in Modesto

kvaline@modbee.comApril 26, 2013 

    alternate text Kevin Valine
    Title: Reporter
    Coverage areas: City of Modesto and nonprofits
    Bio: Kevin Valine has been a copy editor and reporter at The Bee since January 2006. He's worked at the Reno Gazette-Journal, Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune and Paradise Post as a reporter and copy editor. He's a graduate of San Jose State.
    Recent stories written by Kevin
    E-mail: kvaline@modbee.com

Modesto's homeless turned out Friday for the Street Relief resource fair, where they could get their hair cut, bicycles fixed, and referrals for help with housing, counseling and other services.

The event took place at Modesto Gospel Mission, but about two dozen government agencies, nonprofit organizations and faith-based groups participated in the second annual resource fair.

The event offered the homeless one-stop shopping for services and referrals.

For instance, Golden Valley Health Centers gave out toothbrushes and toothpaste and checked blood pressure. And the homeless could get their dogs inoculated, microchipped andexamined by veterinarian Michael O'Brien, who also provided information on free spaying and neutering.

Fairgoers were served grilled hot dogs, potato chips, cookies and bottled water for lunch.

Organizers expected about 400 people, and about 200 had gone through the intake line in little more than an hour after the fair opened at 10 a.m. Not all were homeless; some live in the nearby airport neighborhood, one of the city's poorest areas.

Pam Dumas of Modesto Gospel Mission said that though the fair was held at the mission, it was organized by the mission and other members of Stanislaus County's Continuum of Care, a coalition of several dozen nonprofits, faith-based groups and government agencies that work with the homeless.

Others at the resource fair included The Salvation Army, Stanislaus County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, the Children's Crisis Center and The Bike Shop, part of Nineveh Ministries, which offers food, clothing, bike repair and other services on Saturdays in area parks.

Bicycle maintenance

About two dozen mountain bikes, beach cruisers and 10-speeds were awaiting service Friday in front of The Bike Shop's booth. Bike Shop workers would remove a bike's front and rear axles to clean them and grease the bearings, check and adjust the gears and brakes, and replace inner tubes and tires as needed.

"I need something to ride, I get tired of walking," said a 53-year-old homeless man who identified himself as Jesse as he waited for The Bike Shop to replace the worn out and flat rear tire on his black Huffy beach cruiser. "Are you going to walk five miles?"

Joe Griffin, 70, was one of the fairgoers who got his hair cut by one of three volunteer hairstylists. Griffin and his wife, Irene, live in the airport neighborhood and said they frequently eat breakfast and lunch at the mission.

Joe Griffin said it helps them make ends meet.

They also came Friday to get help because they are losing their home of more than 40 years to foreclosure and are overwhelmed with the prospect of coming up with a deposit and first and last months' rent for a new home.

"We don't have that much," he said. "We get Social Security, about $1,400 (a month) between the two of us."

Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at kvaline@modbee.com or (209) 578-2316.

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