Ninety four homeless people got a free haircut, took a shower and sought medical attention at the second annual South Bay Homeless Connect Event.
Hector Lara, 38, was one of those people taking advantage of the services and benefits at the event.
Lara received on-site medical care, spiritual guidance, applied for food stamps and was able to get some clothes.
Lara, a Los Angeles native, became homeless when his mother passed away in August.
With nothing left to his name, he left the city of Angels to seek out long lost relatives in Tijuana.
After a short stay across the border, the ex auto mechanic found himself living on the streets in San Diego.
“The thing is that I got stuck out here,” Lara said. “ I was visiting my family over the border on Labor Day weekend, and I recrossed the border and I got stuck out here.”
Lara said he had no money to get around. He said he had an issue with social security not giving him money because they had thought he lived in Tijuana.
He said he never lived in Tijuana.
Then one day, Lara attended a church in San Ysidro and a member of the church gave him a flyer for the South Bay homeless outreach event.
Lara said he knew instantly that an event like this is what he needed.
“I have no funds to travel, or eat, or nothing,” he said. “So this is the type of environment that I have to come to,” he said.
On the day of the outreach, Lara was one of the first ones in line at Parkway Gym in Chula Vista, ready to see a social worker, get medical attention and to shower.
Lara said he was glad to see a social worker at the event, so that he can inquire about how to take care of his issue with social security.
Sheyna Alcantara, another homeless individual came to the outreach with her two young children.
She said it is difficult living on the streets as a single mother because she not only has to worry about the next meal for her but for two other people.
Alcantara said she was surprised at the number of volunteers that showed up to help her.
“That’s pretty amazing that all these people are actually here to help,” she said. “I’ve actually had doors closed on me.”
Alcantara left the event with a possible housing opportunity for her family.
Volunteer Mariea Wilson with LifeActs Church worked the exit booth, the last booth where homeless people turned in their registration sheet. At this booth, the homeless were able to pick up a hygiene pack, sunglasses, reading glasses and a ball cap.
Wilson got emotional when interviewed because she said not too long ago she probably would have been the one on the receiving end.
“To me it means a lot because I was homeless at onetime and I didn’t know where to go to get food, to get assistance,” she said.
Among the agencies in attendance to help the homeless individuals were the San Diego Family Health Centers, which provided medical services, Bella’s Academy in National City gave free haircuts and San Diego Health and Human Services helped with questions regarding food stamps.
Lara received a black sweatshirt that was donated from a sweatshirt drive.
Lara put on the sweatshirt with a smile on his face.
Angelica Davis, project coordinator, said the annual event always makes her grateful for what she has.
“We are blessed to have the jobs that we have, but to get out there and work with the people that truly need the services it puts things into perspective,” she said.
The South Bay Homeless Advocacy Coalition hosted the outreach Tuesday, Nov. 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.