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Lakeside bluegrass: Holiday concert benefits North County's medically fragile homeless 

Editor's Note: The Bow Ties Bluegrass Band show on Dec. 8 at Pavilion on the Lake has been cancelled.

The Knights of Columbus of Saint Williams Catholic Church in Atascadero has developed something of a reputation here in SLO County for throwing rockin' fundraising concerts that benefit local nonprofits.

Be sure to catch the latest bash: a holiday concert on Dec. 8 featuring The Bow Ties Bluegrass Band at Atascadero Pavilion on the Lake. All proceeds from the show will benefit Transitional Food and Shelter, an organization dedicated to helping the medically fragile homeless population in North County.

click to enlarge CHARITY JAMS The Bow Ties Bluegrass Band will play a concert at the Atascadero Pavilion on the Lake on Dec. 8. All proceeds from the event will benefit Transitional Food and Shelter, a nonprofit serving the homeless in North County. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PAVILION ON THE LAKE
  • Photo Courtesy Of Pavilion On The Lake
  • CHARITY JAMS The Bow Ties Bluegrass Band will play a concert at the Atascadero Pavilion on the Lake on Dec. 8. All proceeds from the event will benefit Transitional Food and Shelter, a nonprofit serving the homeless in North County.

General admission tickets are $30 on, and for an extra $20 you'll get the chance to meet the band members over hors d'oeuvres and drinks. The Bow Ties are award-winning musicians who play foot-stomping and intricate bluegrass.

"They'll have everyone enjoying themselves real quick," said Orlando Gallegos, president of Transitional Food and Shelter and an organizer of the event.

It's all for a great cause. For the past 20 years or so, Transitional Food and Shelter has helped provide shelter, counseling, and other services to the homeless at their most vulnerable moments. As Gallego explained, the way it typically works is the nonprofit is contacted by another organization, like Twin Cities Hospital, connecting them to a client in need.

"It involves primarily individuals who are, say, exiting a hospital, have minimal resources, if any, are unable to take care of themselves medically, and have no place to go," Gallego said.

Then the group offers short-term housing to the individual(s) either in apartments that they rent or in a motel, and provides them with an around-the-clock case worker who makes sure they have food, are taking their medication, and are generally making progress.

"We shepherd them through until they're well enough to care for themselves," he said. "We are a transition point. It could be as short as a few days or as long as several months."

In addition to this service, Transitional Food and Shelter is also the driver behind a warming center in Atascadero, where homeless individuals and families can stay during inclement winter weather. This winter's warming center recently opened at Saint Williams Church in its parish hall. Community members can donate meals and other needed items for the shelter.

"We'll have anywhere from 40 to 60 individuals. Sometimes we'll have families," Gallego said. "We're able to provide a warm, safe, and dry space, as well as just simply an environment of compassion."

Gallego warned against stereotyping the homeless—you never know who somebody is or why they've fallen down on their luck. One client he mentioned used to be an engineer at Apple Computers under then-CEO Steve Jobs. Then, one day, he walked into a homeless shelter in Atascadero.

"Individuals like him, in a friendly atmosphere that has well-defined discipline, actually thrive," Gallego explained. "We try to help people start a new beginning, so to speak."

Sound like a good destination for your $30? Then enjoy some lakeside bluegrass, holiday cheer, and warm company on Dec. 8. Local wines, desserts, art, and other artisan items will also be available at the event via a silent auction and raffle.

The doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the VIP meet-and-greet with the Bow Ties starts at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are also available through Transitional Food and Shelter and the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce. Call (805) 441-4896 for more information.

Fast facts

The Arroyo Grande Rotary Club is holding its 11th annual Christmas and Holiday Sing-Along on Sunday, Dec. 16, in the Clark Center at 4 p.m. "Attendees will be able to enjoy great regional music and performing groups while also joining their family and friends in singing all their favorite Christmas and holiday songs," a club press release stated. Net proceeds will benefit local school music and arts programs.

The Christmas HUB is now open at the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce, where shoppers can find products like olive oil, vinegar, spices and seasonings, and coffee made by local businesses. Call (805)466-2044 for more information.

The SLO Chamber of Commerce has hired a new CEO, Jim Dantona, who starts on Jan. 2. Dantona previously served as chief of staff for Los Angeles City Councilmember Nury Martinez. He'll be introduced to the community on Jan. 19 at the annual Chamber dinner and on Jan. 24 at the Good Morning SLO breakfast. Δ

Assistant Editor Peter Johnson wrote this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send tidbits to

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