Veterans car show brings awareness to mental health issues

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Oroville resident Bob Ishmael had his choice of car shows to attend last weekend, including one in his home town, but decided to bring his black Buick Super with a Dynaflow transmission to Colusa for the second annual Veterans Car Show, put on by the SafeHaven Wellness and Drop-In Center.

“You never feel it shift – it’s fluid,” Ishmael said, as he stood at the front of his car and prepared to head home. “I call it my land yacht.”

The Veterans Car Show shifted into its second year as smoothly as Ishmael’s transmission, with increased attendance, both from the public and the number of cars entered.

“I think it went better than last year,” said Valerie Stirling, Safe Haven’s peer support specialist. “Last year, we had 32 cars, and on Saturday we had 42. We had about 150 people come to the park last year, and we that many or more throughout the day this year.”

Stirling attributed the growth to having more time to prepare for the event, which was put together in just two months last year.

“(This year) we started in October, and had nine months to work on it. We made direct calls to car clubs, and emailed the people who entered last year,” Stirling said, adding that they advertised more in the region this year as well.

The event started last year as a way to thank veterans while raising awareness for mental health issues many veterans face, and the resources available to them. That’s what brought Ishmael and his Buick Super to Colusa, instead of the show in his hometown.

“They had that big car show in Oroville, but I decided to come down here to help Val (Stirling) out. I’m a vet myself,” Ishmael said, explaining that he served in the Army from 1969 to 1971. “I actually met my wife in the service. Anything for the veterans, I try to get out and go.”

Stirling said that event still has room to grow, but that it would continue be tough to compete with other car shows in the area.

“What we want to do (in the future) is definitely continue to grow and we would love to have more cars, but we are competing with other car shows… We have to have to stick with May, because May is Mental Health Month. Finding a good day in May is hard,” Stirling said. “What I would really like to see is more participation from organizations like probation, the police department, doctors – I would like it to grow with more vendors like that.”

Brian Pearson
Brian Pearson is the Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects include reporting on local government and the newly feature sports page. To contact Brian about this article, or for future articles, please email him at