When Jason Babin, veteran and owner of Raff’s Cafe in Haverhill, MA, first realized the impact COVID-19 would have on the local community, he reached out to Veterans Northeast Outreach Center (VNOC).

“VNOC does a great job providing veterans with the resources they need to find housing, employment and support when they need it most,” he said. “I knew I had to get involved.”

This involvement, said VNOC’s John Ford, initially consisted of Babin making meals and donating them to VNOC since he had food he was not going to be able to prepare for customers.

“We were thrilled and honored at his willingness to donate to our veterans,” he said.

According to Ford, though, the opportunity for VNOC was to pay such generosity forward.

“I asked Jason what it would cost to do 20 meals a day to be picked up by one of our staff for our veterans at one of our housing properties,” he said. “We agreed on $10 per person per day.”

Noting VNOC is paying for the cost of the food while Babin is donating the labor, Ford said he hopes the arrangement can keep Raff’s Cafe in business longer during the crisis.

“Jason is really stepping up to make a difference to a group of veterans hit especially hard by the restrictions associated with COVID-19,” he said.

For Babin, who also employs a veteran, his support of VNOC results from the bond he said is shared by all men and women who have served the country.

“It’s a brotherhood,” he said. “You’re always told to never to leave another man behind. It’s something you carry with you and strive to do for the rest of your life.”

Babin’s commitment, added Ford, is one recent example out of many of “veterans helping veterans right now.”

“It is an honor to be involved with Jason, VNOC and all the other unsung veterans and veteran-owned businesses who keep steeping forward to offer assistance–it’s everyone really, ” he said. “At this time especially, I don’t think anyone at VNOC can adequately express our thanks.”

Babin expressed his gratitude to VNOC.

“I want to thank VNOC so much for the hope and fighting chance to keep my life long dream, this business, alive ,” he said. “I truly cannot thank them enough. Without VNOC and this partnership, our doors would already be closed.”

Founded in 1985, VNOC provides basic food and shelter, housing, advocacy, counseling, peer support, case management, employment and education to veterans and their families throughout Essex, Middlesex and Barnstable Counties in Massachusetts and Rockingham County in New Hampshire.