Archive for April, 2013

HomelessFamilyDespite signs that the economy continues to make a sluggish recovery, some measures – like the disappointing employment report released this month – demonstrate that the recovery has failed so far to touch many Americans. More than four years after the start of the recession, many still struggle to make a prosperous life for themselves and their families. Even paying for necessities like housing, food and health care has become out of reach for many.

At Volunteers of America, we often say that quality affordable housing forms the foundation for a successful life. But having a good job is also an essential part of that foundation. Not only is a job important for the obvious financial reasons … it also builds up people emotionally by giving their lives a sense of purpose and self-worth. Self-sufficiency is the end goal for participants in most of our programs, and that depends on a steady job.

Often, homelessness can be traced back to a lack of job skills and an inability to find employment. This is especially true among America’s veterans, many of whom return home and find it difficult to transition back into civilian life. We’re working to help in that transition by providing services like job training and placement in areas of the country especially hard-hit by unemployment.

One such program is in Ohio, where services are offered in Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton to help veterans find employment. These Homeless Veterans Reintegration Programs provide assistance like job skill development; resume writing; job searching, placement and coaching; career clothing; transportation assistance; and referrals to community resources. These Ohio programs have placed 1,630 veterans in jobs since 2009.

At a time when so many people are looking for work, or have become so discouraged that they’ve dropped out of the job market altogether, Volunteers of America is there to make sure they receive the support needed to get back on their feet.

– By Mike King, National President and CEO, Volunteers of America

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Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans President/CEO Jim LeBlanc stands by Princeton Carter as he presents a gift card from his Brother’s Keeper Newman program to 10-year Army veteran Juanita and her twin daughters, Kamry and Kalin.

Many of us see persons who are homeless and feel sorry for them. But Princeton Carter, a ninth grader at Newman School in New Orleans, did much more. He noticed that one of the homeless men under a bridge near the Superdome carried a sign saying he was a veteran. Looking closer, Princeton saw that the man also displayed an ID that proved he had served.

Princeton knew he had to help. After brainstorming, he decided that feeding veterans in crisis would make a real difference. He planned a community service project called “My Brother’s Keeper Newman.” Gift cards from a local grocery store chain were soon part of the plan. Carter began asking other Newman students and parents for help. The school’s Action Committee, which focuses on providing community service, also became involved in the project and recruited more supporters. Before long, Carter received fifty $100 gift cards for groceries.

While organizing his project, Carter learned that Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans serves veterans in a variety of ways through a Support Services for Veterans Families program. This effort stabilizes formerly homeless veterans who are rebuilding their lives. It helps them unite and take care of their families. Carter decided to present Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans with the gift cards he had gathered to help veterans in need.

As a result of Carter’s generous donation, supported by the Newman School community, many veterans and their families are being fed and loved. His commitment to help has made a huge difference in the lives of those who served our country.

– By Anna Scheffy, Marketing Coordinator, Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans

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