Donation benefits veterans’ services

The Downtown Altoona Business Community (DABC) donated $1,500 of the proceeds from the 2017 “Altoona in Bloom” Downtown Street Fair to Blair County Community Action Agency’s Support Services for Veterans’ Families (SSVF).

SSVF provides at-risk and homeless veterans a way to obtain housing and secure employment.

SSVF coordinator Kyle Easly said that the organization has assisted 13 veterans and reduced the homeless rate by 68 percent in Blair County so far this year.

Ben Stahl, executive director of Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania, which oversees the program, said that the DABC’s “contribution helps us to serve … men and women who are homeless or about to be homeless, underemployed or unemployed.

“We work with them along their journey to self-sufficiency, financial stability, and a better quality of life.”

DABC treasurer Gary Crozier of Gary’s Groceries & More conceived of the street fair as a way to bring people of all ages downtown to see the positive changes taking place in Altoona’s city center.

The event was held on Mother’s Day weekend and included carnival rides, food trucks, vendors, a lip-sync battle, music, face painting, sidewalk chalk art created by area students and other activities.

The DABC worked with Bartlebaugh Amusements, the City of Altoona, the Greater Altoona Economic Development Corporation, Penn State Altoona and the Altoona Parking Authority to organize the event.

IPI Security Services and The Anvil were event sponsors. Blair Candy Company, Kerr Kreations, the Comics Vault, and many vendors, artists, and musicians contributed to the event’s success.

The DABC is committed to creating a renaissance in the heart of Altoona, with specific emphasis on small business development/attraction/growth, retention of area graduates, preservation of Altoona’s architectural heritage, and increasing cultural diversity.