SANTA MARIA, Calif. - All year long, Good Samaritan Shelter volunteers serve those in need. On Thursday, Good Samaritan served them during its volunteer appreciation luncheon.
"This is our way of saying thank you so much to our community and is a great reminder to those in the community that aren't engaged that this is how they can come out and help," said Sylvia Barnard, executive director of Good Samaritan.
Thursday's lunch at the Santa Maria Veterans Memorial Building drew hundreds of community members, ranging from individuals, to those in service groups, clubs, churches and other various local organizations.
"We are so grateful to the community groups and the support and the volunteers that we have from the Santa Maria community," said Barnard. "Many of these provide all the meals, and all the food that goes into it. They prepare it all and then they serve it."
Barnard notes the amount of volunteer time and financial resources that are provided by volunteers saves the non-profit organization up to $300,000 annually.
Good Samaritan provides two nighttime meal servings, one for the emergency shelter, the other at the family shelter. According to Barnard, about 200 people are fed each day.
"It takes a village, and this is really our village," said Barnard. "Good Samaritan could never do what we do and be able to serve 2,500-plus people a year if it wasn't for the community backing us up."
The guest of honor at Thursday's luncheon was 93-year-old Mickey Keith, who has been volunteering her time for more than 30 years.
"It was my thing," said Keith. "I was always concerned about helping people."
Keith spends about two hours nightly at the shelter. She helps with attendance, handing out mail and provides encouragement to those in need.
"When you try to help somebody else, you are helped more than the help your giving," said Keith.
Barnard recognized Keith's many years of service to the audience, who provided her with a standing ovation.
While speaking to the audience, Keith acknowledged the importance of the volunteers in the room, adding without them, the shelter would likely have to close its doors.
Keith, who previously served on the Good Samaritan Board of Directors for many years, noted the importance of Good Samaritan, which provides a number of various services in northern Santa Barbara County to those who are homeless and in need.
"They're helping people to get established and to go on with their live and getting their life back together," said Keith.
Longtime Santa Maria resident Roger Selken has lived in the city for more than 50 years. He said giving back is simply what people do in Santa Maria.
"If there is a need in Santa Maria, there's somebody that's going to step up and help, no matter what it is," said Selken. "You see all these organizations. If there is a need that they can help with, they'll come in and step up and do it."
For more information about Good Samaritan Shelter visit: http://goodsamaritanshelter.org/