Highwaymen ‘Hold Up’ Bell Shelter

By Beverly Ventriss –

The original ‘Highwaymen,’ the popular folk group which made its mark in the ’60s, performed at the fourth annual Bell Shelter fundraiser, which netted more than $35,000, the most of any fundraising event held there, according to So. Calif. Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Alfred R. Van Cleef. Shelter residents escorted guests and politicians on a tour of the facility, located on the former U.S. Army Cheli Air Base.

The Bell Shelter is the first federal facility under the McKinney Act that provides for vacant or under-utilized buildings to be used for the homeless. Since opening in 1988, it has given 300,000 nights of shelter, caring for an estimated 220 per day.

It helped kick off numerous public/private partnerships across the county and nation. Using its 40,000 square feet, The Salvation Army manages the shelter, providing social services and coordinating a variety of programs designed to move the shelter’s residents back into the mainstream.

“We focus on the re-training of people, get them employed and their lives back on track, so they can move out on their own and support themselves without any city, county, state or federal help,” said Van Cleef.

Services offered to residents include: transitional living trailers, job training and computer assistance programs, legal and counseling services, alcohol and drug-related treatment programs, and medical mobile care. The shelter boasts a high success rate: more than 85 percent of the residents are still employed six months after leaving the program.

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