Visitors to the third annual Safe Haven Wellness Center’s Veterans Car Show in Colusa on Saturday enjoyed vehicles of all makes and models.
But the event also served a purpose like few other car shows in the area, organizers said, in that it honors those who served in the military and included activities to raise awareness about mental health and substance abuse.
The goal is to stamp out the stigma sometimes associated with mental health issues, said Safe Haven Peer Support Specialist Valerie Stirling.
“That is why we hold the event, so we can educate people about mental health,” Stirling said “People that have mental health issues can lead a normal life just like everyone else.”
According to the Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness, an estimated 26 percent of adults have a diagnosable mental illness in a given year; about 21 percent of children ages nine to 17 have a diagnosable mental or addictive illness, and one in two people will have a mental health issue during their lifetime, while less than one-third of adults with a mental health issue will get help.
For military veterans, about 20 percent show signs of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, the Association notes.
While the car show also raises money for Veterans Memorial Wall, car show participants and old-and-classic-car enthusiasts said the event was mostly about camaraderie and nostalgia.
“We’re here to support the veterans, but also to just have fun,” said David Forger, of the Lake Lords Car Club.
Members of the club, all from the Clear Lake area in Lake County, have attended the show since its inception.
One of the beauties and the oldest car at Saturday’s show was Jay Gould’s 1934 Ford three-window coupe, painted burgundy to honor his late wife, Jeannette, who loved the color.
“I keep her picture in the car so she rides with me wherever I go,” said Gould, of Hidden Lake, a member of the club since 2014.
Some of the participants were veterans themselves, including Ron Jim Spero, of Kelseyville, who served in Korea, and Forger, an Army reservist from 1959-1967, who said he was lucky that he didn’t have to go to war.
“I was very fortunate,” Folger said.
While the number of cars in the show was down from last year, many Colusa County residents participated, including Troy Hansen, of Princeton, with his 1938 Willys Coupe.
Ron and Celeste Glasscow, also of Princeton, were there with their 1955 Ford Crown Victoria, and Tom Corbin, of Maxwell, came with his 1948 Ford Pick-up.
Colusa participants included Allan Burgett, with his 1966 Ford Thunderbird; Bud Coletti, with his 1946 Mercury; Ron Rector, of Colusa, with his 1965 Mustang; and Mel Arant, with his 1952 Jeep.
David Woods proved cars need not be old or classic to shine at a car show.
Woods made a splash with his 2006 Chevy HHR, the first year in production for the retro-styled, high-roofed, five-door, five-passenger, front-wheel drive station wagon, now painted silver and gray with red trim.
While Max Ortiz, 3, was quick to point out that Larry Yeghoian’s 1966 Chevelle was the best car in the show, his sister Virginia, 5, argued it was her grandfather Woody Yerxa’s 1955 Chevy Nomad that should have that honor.
“My pop pop’s car is better,” she said.
In addition to well-preserved vehicles, visitors to Memorial Park on Saturday enjoyed music, information booths, vendors and raffles.
“The community was absolutely amazing when it came to raffle prizes,” Stirling said. “In past years, we had like 30 or 40. This year we hand near 70. “
The car show included a free lunch of hamburgers and hot dogs, all completely donated.
“Safe Haven really didn’t have to pay for this event,” Stirling said. “It’s just amazing.” ■