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Expo offers services, food, clothes to veterans, homeless
10302017 EXPO
St. John Baptist Church in Gainesville - photo by Jeff Gill

As someone who works every day with disabled veterans, Stephen McGruder of the Georgia Department of Labor sees a variety of needs.

And that’s why the Veterans & Community Resource Expo is held each year.

“We want to put all these resources (in one place) and make them available so people can take advantage of them,” said McGruder, an Air Force veteran.

The fifth annual expo, sponsored by American Legion Post 328 in Flowery Branch and St. John Baptist Church in Gainesville, is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the church at 757 E.E. Butler Parkway.

Veterans & Community Resource Expo

What: Opportunity for veterans and homeless to get services, food

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: St. John Baptist Church, 757 E.E. Butler Parkway, Gainesville

The event will offer free medical care, food and clothing, as well as access to area service agencies such as Ninth District Opportunity and the Georgia Department of Veterans Service. Also, a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs representative will be at the event, McGruder said.

The WorkSource Georgia Mountains’ Career Coach also is planning to attend.

“We will be helping veterans and local residents search and apply for jobs, write resumes and cover letters, and discern their career interests,” said Keith Krauth, mobile training unit instructor, in an email.

“We are trying to follow the (philosophy) of (giving a) hand up, not a handout,” McGruder said.

The expo initially benefited only veterans, but later was expanded to also serve needy residents, including the homeless.

“People from the community were coming and asking for things,” McGruder said. “The way I see it is we’re here to serve the community and we want to be a positive force in the community.

“If anyone needs anything, it makes no sense for us to hold onto it.”

For Eddie Christian, a St. John member involved in the efforts, the event is dear to his heart.

“Being a veteran, I know there are some vets out there who need assistance,” he said.

And St. John “is a reach-out (type of) church, anyhow,” Christian said. “I’ve never had a pastor who had a problem with doing anything for the community or to help somebody.”

One issue McGruder said needs addressing at the expo is affordable housing.

“What a lot of people think as affordable (housing cost) is $200,000,” he said. “That’s not affordable. A lot of jobs pay $9, $10, $11 an hour, and you can’t live on that, especially with a family.”