Nov 11, 2020

This is a Good Day to Stand Up for Sacramento Stand Down

Annual event for homeless and at-risk veterans is today from 9-3

By Ed Goldman

At 17 years old, Jacob No is already a purpose-driven man. He says he’s “always had a passion for serving other people,” which has included his volunteering in soup kitchens both in the Sacramento area and Corona Del Mar, where his parents have homes—and, more recently, for Sacramento Stand Down

The annual support-services event for homeless and at-risk veterans, guards and reservists, takes place today from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at McClellan Park. The site is the former U.S. Air Force base in North Sacramento.

Jacob No, photo by Megan No.

During the event, Stand Down’s volunteer professionals provide dental, vision and medical checkups (including flu shots), mental health services and counseling (including for drug and alcohol issues), information on veterans’ benefits and state disability procedures. In addition, experts are there to assist with housing, employment and health-and-human services.

Jacob, who’s the first president of Stand Down’s local youth program, became involved in the organization as a student at Jesuit High School. His uncle, he tells me, had been a U.S. Army Ranger. His dad, David, is a dermatologist and his mom, Megan, who was born in Korea, handles the books. Jacob also has an older brother, Nicholas.

As a project for his Eagle Scout Troop #380, Jacob designed and with his troop, helped build five clothing racks for Stand Down (“They only let the adults use the power tools,” he says without resentment). He and his buddies, under the leadership of “our great troopmaster, David Ishikawa,” also raised about $2700 for the racks’ raw materials and other service needs.

Today, Jacob will be staffing a music booth at the event. “We’ll be trying to play mainly calming music,” he says. I hope to attend and hope if you’re anywhere nearby, you do, too.

This is the 28th annual Sacramento Stand Down event in the region. I wrote about it twice before because a friend of mine, Michael White, had told me a very compelling story about why he, a non-veteran, had become so involved with the group. 

It turned out that his parents had both served in World War II. His father, John White, was a U.S. Army major who served both in World War II and later, in the Korean War. His mother, Dorothy Mae White—who died a few years ago at the age of 101, at the home of her son and his wife, Pamela Dahl—was an army nurse who worked the D-Day invasion. 

As White told me for my Sacramento Business Journal column in early 2016,  “My parents met when my dad was driving in a convoy in England during World War II and my mom thumbed a ride from him.” After the war, White’s mother became an emergency room nurse in Aberdeen, Washington “but eventually quit because she was afraid that one night they’d bring me there after an accident or a fight. It’s amazing, considering everything she saw at D-Day.” 

White, now 72, told me at the time that his mom would never discuss the war but added that after she saw Steven Spielberg’s film, “Saving Private Ryan,” which featured an extended, horrifically violent set piece about the invasion, “All she’d say is: ‘Well, they sure got that right.’”

Now another non-veteran is taking up the cause. When I ask Jacob if he thinks he’ll go into the military someday, I’m impressed by the tact of his answer. “Well, I don’t know what the future holds for me.” Right now, the present consists of his volunteer work, his “thinking about majoring in business in college” and intense sessions of the video game Minecraft with his pals. “I’m like a lot of kids my age,” he says—“addicted to video games.”

It comes as a relief. For most of our chat I had to keep reminding myself that I was the alleged grownup.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).