By Tomas Kassahun, Reporter
HandsOn Central California, an organization which coordinates volunteering efforts, will honor two Central Valley Veterans board members at a luncheon on April 26.
CVV board member president Deb Riordan and vice president John Schuler will be the honorees at the Hands Across The Valley Awards 2017.
Riordan is a U.S. Marine Corp Veterans Mom. She stays active in the community, serving as a board member at Fresno Center for New Americans and at CVV.
“It’s humbling. There are other people that are more driven than I am,” Riordan said. “Having the recognition of my volunteer service in various organizations really means a lot to me.”
Schuler is a retired U.S. Army veteran. He has been instrumental in the development of Stand Down in Fresno, a collaboration of several organizations established to assist all veterans.
“We work with mainly homeless veterans, getting them housing,” Schuler said. “Sometimes we help them with their deposits. We help them with electrical bills, things like that.”
The Stand Down, held annually for four days during the third week in September, provides numerous services at one location. The event gives overnight facilities to homeless veterans, including three meals per day, showers, new clothing, personal hygiene bags and sleeping bags.
“We set up a tent city for veterans. They come and spend a few days there and go through all the different services,” Schuler said. “All they need is an ID card. We provide them with everything else. We provide them with all kinds of stuff they take home with them.”
Riordan has been a volunteer for much of her life.
“I volunteered with the Red Cross when I was in college,” Riordan said. “Then I did all the typical mother stuff, parent club at elementary schools and middle schools, in charge of snacks bars for sports teams, all that kind of stuff.”
But Riordan is most proud of what she has done with the CVV.
“We are volunteers and we survive on community donations,” she said. “We provide emergency services to veterans to keep them in permanent housing. We grew from about a $30,000 budget to now about $180,000 budget. Last year, we were able to get back over $83,000 to more than 300 veterans and active service members and their families in actual rent support, utility support, repairs and that sort of thing.”
HandsOn Central California began hosting the annual Hands Across the Valley Volunteer Awards Luncheon in 1968, recognizing the community’s volunteers.
This year’s event will be held on Wednesday, April 26 at the Veterans Memorial Hall in Clovis.