DES MOINES, Iowa -- Homeless Iowans can get some much needed help at the Capitol this weekend. This weekend is the annual Homeless Stand Down.
The event caters to veterans, but is available for anyone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. People can get free food, clothing, and a place to stay for the weekend. This year organizers are also offering free cell phones and help registering for health care.
More than 150 Stand Downs are held every year across the U.S.
Last year the event served 2,000 people, half were veterans. Organizers say they’re seeing more young people and families every year. Veterans Service Officer Nick Lemmo says he’s not sure why he’s seeing so many young homeless veterans. He says many of them struggle readjusting to civilian life and too many veterans aren’t aware of the services available to them.
Margaret Spikes, a Des Moines native who has volunteered at the Stand Down for several years now, says this event really does make a positive impact on peoples' lives. She recalled one homeless veteran who was able to completely turn his life around after attending the event.
"He was able to actually hook up with somebody and find out that he actually had a bank account that had a balance in it," she said. "He was able to get an apartment, and then that led to him getting a job, and he was able to turn his life around from being a homeless veteran to being gainfully employed."
The Stand Down is open Friday, 5-8 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., and Sunday 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. Free transportation will be available starting at 4 p.m. Friday and during operational hours. Those looking for a ride to the event or to take a shower at CISS should call 515-669-8637.