impact stories

the wally taylor story

The Wally Award is given annually to the outstanding volunteer for the Sacramento Stand Down Association. It is named for Wally Taylor who received the award a number of times before it was named in his honor.

Wally is a former homeless veteran who served in the U.S. Army during the last couple years of the Viet Nam War. He enlisted before completing high school at age 17. Boot camp was at Fort Knox in Kentucky and then trained as a truck mechanic at Fort Riley, Kansas.

Upon his honorable discharge in 1976, Wally returned home to Los Angeles and did a number of jobs before first arriving in Sacramento at age 24. He came to Sacramento while assisting his father who delivered vegetables, fruit and cotton from the Bakersfield area.

After working with his father, Wally held many part-time jobs in the Bakersfield area before returning to Sacramento.

Wally is a baseball fan in general and especially enjoys listening to the San Francisco Giants and River Cats games on his radio. He recalls being homeless at night in his sleeping bag and falling asleep listening to their games.

He does believe his fondness for baseball originated with his mother's love for the game. In fact, she had many signed gloves, balls and bats that were stored under his bed.

Wally has not seen his father, mother and two sisters for many years. In an attempt to hopefully see family again, each year on New Year's Eve, he departs by train for Pasadena to attend the Rose Bowl Parade on New Year's Day. He spends the night waiting for the sun to rise while standing in the same area where the family used to view the parade.

Wally first became acquainted with the Sacramento Stand Down Association when they hosted Stand Down gatherings at Camp Pollack. He had been homeless for approximately 14 years and greatly appreciated the care and welfare received from these events as well as the opportunity to safely socialize with other homeless veterans.

After a number of years of enjoying and appreciating the services provided by the Sacramento Stand Down Association, Wally was invited to become a special advisor to the Sacramento Stand Down Association. His experience as a former homeless veteran is a terrific conduit for working with and helping other homeless veterans.

Mr. Don Harper is one of the co-founders of the Sacramento Stand Down Association and has worked with homeless veterans for almost 30 years. He so eloquently praised Wally for being able to "get out of the foxhole of homelessness" by getting an apartment and maintaining a never-ending willingness to serve others.

Wally's love for baseball is only exceeded by his love for his new family, the Sacramento Stand Down Association.