Year after year, Love Turlock aims to help those in need in meaningful and practical ways throughout the community, but this year a new partnership will allow the event to take it one step further.
While approximately 1,000 volunteers are busy picking up trash, weeding, and providing food and other services Saturday at the annual Love Turlock event, the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds will concurrently be buzzing with the excitement surrounding Turlock Unified School District Special Education Department’s inaugural Raising Awareness through Inspiration, Support, and Education—or more efficiently known as R.A.I.S.E. Festival.
“The Special Education Department has teamed up with Love Turlock, who was kind enough to invite us to join them at the fairgrounds,” said Program Specialist Matt Devins. “Jeff Santos, our director, immediately recognized the potential to make the event bigger and more influential.”
“We are happy to team up with TUSD in hosting their R.A.I.S.E Festival at the fairgrounds in conjunction with the Love Turlock BBQ,” added Craig Brooks, Love Turlock Planning Team Leader.
According to Devins, the Special Education Department has considered the idea of a festival for some time and eventually reached out to Love Turlock in an effort to bring more services and resources to community families.
“It’s so important in the times that we live in to link as many agencies or entities together to further the community,” said Devins. “Partnerships, such as the one with Love Turlock, are so critical because no one agency can tackle contemporary dilemmas by itself.”
“Poverty, the access to services, education—we must solve this together,” continued Devins.
In order to address every facet of what families might need, Devins reported that the department reached out to a number of local agencies that will attend the inaugural festival, including Medic-Alert, Creative Alternatives, United Samaritans Foundation, Aspiranet, Family Justice Center, Jessica’s House, and California State University, Stanislaus among others.
Devins reports the Special Education Department is especially proud to present Medi-Cal vendors during tomorrow’s event, where guests can interact with agency experts and register their families for Medi-Cal right on the spot.
“All that people will need to provide is proof of identity, such as a birth certificate, and a Social Security card and they are good to go,” said Devins.
According to Devins, the original idea behind the festival was to raise awareness of disabilities. To do this, the Special Education Department has also partnered with the Stanislaus County Office of Education to demonstrate different disabilities and simulate a disability to the best of their ability.
“Nothing can truly simulate being disabled, but we are hoping that we have set up activities that will give people a greater understanding of the world that people with disabilities experience often daily and life-long,” said Devins.
Although their goal has developed over the course of planning the inaugural event, Devins said that the department still aims to reach as many families as possible in order to bring them as many possible service providers in one place.
There will also be activities for kids during Saturday’s festival, including face-painting, two petting zoos, a necklace-making station courtesy of the Turlock 12:10 Lion’s Club, and a visit from the Turlock Fire Department. Live bands playing family-appropriate music and several food vendors will also be in attendance.
“It’s so important that we take advantage of what brings us all together—wonderful human concepts like faith and charity and sacrifice and honor and compassion,” said Devins. “And hope—hope makes people want to better their lives and their families. This is a wonderful opportunity.”
The R.A.I.S.E. Festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds. Admission is free.
Love Turlock will kick off at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds at 7:30 a.m. There will be a free BBQ lunch for the volunteers and the community afterwards from noon to 3 p.m.
For more information or to volunteer, visit loveturlock.org or call 417-5581.