Maricopa Community College employees demonstrated their commitment to Veteran Services by volunteering at the annual Arizona Veteran StandDown. The event, held February 9 through 11 at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, is the largest veteran-focused event in Arizona.
Approximately 10 percent of the volunteers at the annual StandDown event were from Maricopa according to Andrea Banks, District Director of Veterans Services. The original aim was to draw 200 volunteers from the Maricopa system. “Not only did we meet it, but we exceeded the goal,” says Banks in her blue Maricopa volunteer shirt. “As a veteran, it warms my heart to see so many of our colleagues assisting veterans.”
More than 1,000 veterans were expected on the first day, with a total of approximately 2,500 expected to attend throughout the three-day event. StandDown is focused on addressing the needs of homeless and at-risk veterans, including resources like education, basic needs like clothing, meals, showers, and haircuts, and services from VA HealthCare, mental health services, permanent housing, and legal aid.
Maricopa volunteers were matched with a veteran to help guide him or her through the myriad of services offered onsite. “We’re connecting our staff with the community resources,” says Manny Dallago, GateWay Community College Veteran Services Coordinator. He added that volunteers attended from all of the colleges to help veterans explore Maricopa Community Colleges’ many opportunities.
James Cancienne, who works in Veteran Services at Phoenix College, says reaching out to the community was his reason for participating. “To me, that’s extremely important.”
Glendale Community College recruiter Robert Zito added, “We are here to support our veterans as representatives of Glendale Community College, and the larger community, which is Maricopa Community Colleges.”
Banks says the Veterans Services tagline worked best as the objective for the day: Maricopa Community Colleges is dedicated to serving those who serve.
As a final note, Thomas Hudson, an advisor at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, added his own story about what Arizona Standdown means to him, and why he chooses to participate:
February 15, 2017
The Veterans StandDown was held again this past week and, once again, because I am an employee of Maricopa Community Colleges, I was able to give back to my fellow veterans and serve them at the registration table. This is my second year of service, and as long as I am able, I will continue to pay back to the StandDown and hopefully be able help another veteran as much as I was helped.
I would like to share with you what the Veterans StandDown has meant to me. As little as four years ago I was in need of some the services offered at the StandDown. I was on the other side of the registration table asking for help. The services offered allowed me to finish getting everything in my life on track. So, I could use the education that I was earning to fulfill my lifelong dream of working in education. I now do this as an Academic Advisor for Chandler Gilbert Community College. My life is now totally different than it was not that long ago. My family and I are happy, and some of that happiness can be contributed to what the StandDown has done for me.
For more information on future Arizona Veteran StandDown events or Veteran Services, contact Andrea Banks at [email protected] or Manny Dallago at [email protected].