SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- Rich Strathman is happy to have a home this holiday season thanks in to a program provided by Good Samaritan Shelter.
"You can't know how grateful I am," said the 80-year-old Navy veteran.
Earlier this year, Strathman was facing an unknown future.
While living with a relative in Oceano, he unexpectedly was told he would soon have to move out.
"We had to vacate the house because the owner was going to fix it up and give it to her son, so we had to get out of the place," said Strathman.
With a limited income, and seemingly few options, the Bay Area native wasn't sure where he would live.
"It's kind of a scary feeling," said Strathman. "You gotta figure out what's going on? Where am I at? What's going to happen? You don't know, so it's kind of a scary feeling to know that you might end up on the street."
"We basically try to set them up with case management and increase their income, so that once our program is over, they're self-sustainable and they can maintain it long-term," said Trevor Philley, Lead Case Manager. "We connect them with services with benefit that they're already eligible for, but maybe they don't know about."
Once connected with Stratman, Philley determined the six-year Navy veteran was eligible for benefits.
He was then able to find him permanent housing in Santa Maria.
"We were able to help him out, get him into this place, Vandenberg Senior Residence and through the graciousness of landlords like that, that we are able to help out our veterans in need," said Philley.
Based in Grover Beach, SSVF provides veterans with a number of valuable services, including case management, public benefits assistance, advocacy on financial management, well-being, and long-term housing stability, substance abuse wellness and recovery action plans and temporary financial assistance.
"The funding is directly coming from the VA, the Veterans Administration, basically, they fund the whole program. Good Samaritan, they provide the guidance and support," said Philley.
A special bonus that Good Samaritan provides to its veterans clients is a turkey each holiday season.
"Through the Turkey Drive, we're going to be providing all of our veterans that are housed with a turkey so they can have a happy Thanksgiving," said Philley. "It's pretty awesome. These guys have served their country and it's basically our turn to help them out."
Turkeys given to veterans come directly through community donations received through the KCOY Turkey Drive.
"It's pretty awesome. These guys have served their country and it's basically our turn to help them out," said Philley. "A lot of these guys, they're feeling isolated, but this is another good reminder that there are people out there that care."
Strathman is a well-known cook in his new home. He said its something he's done his entire life, even when he was growing up.
He added that as Thanksgiving draws near, he's excited about preparing a holiday meal.
"I love cooking," said Stratman. "I'll do something with that turkey and invite some people over and we'll have a good time."
It will be holiday he'll remember, thanks in large part to Good Samaritan and community generosity.
"I am in a good place and I am very thankful for the help and the compassion that other people have shown me and I really appreciate it," said Strathman.
The Turkey Drive is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 21 from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Donations will be collected at the following locations:
*KCOY studios in Santa Maria
*Grocery Outlet Bargain Market in Lompoc
*California Fresh Market in Pismo Beach
*Food Bank Coalition of SLO County in San Luis Obispo
*Vons in San Luis Obispo
*Vons in Atascadero
All donations collected in Northern Santa Barbara County benefit Good Samaritan Shelter, while those collected in San Luis Obispo County go towards the Food Bank Coalition.
For more information, visit the KCOY Turkey Drive website