Helping veterans either transition from homelessness to permanent housing or stabilize their current situation, Veterans Northeast Outreach Center (VNEOC) has itself been assisted by fellow local nonprofit, We Care Charity.
“They helped provide thousands of meals for some of our veterans hit the hardest by the pandemic,” said VNEOC’s John Ford.
According to Shefali Kalyani, executive director of We Care Charity in Salem, NH, their support of VNEOC represents just the tip of a proverbial iceberg.
“During COVID-19, we are making sandwich bags for 7 shelters and have provided more than 36,000 meals via our brown bag lunch program,” she said. “We also provide food for about 3,000 people at 18 shelters, 4 soup kitchens and 2 group homes in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.”
She said such efforts have largely been supported by volunteers.
“We cannot do what we do without our volunteers,” said Kalyani, who said daily meal deliveries to VNEOC have included a sandwich, snack, fresh fruit and juice box.
“They often also came with a hand-written note or decorated bag, courtesy of these same volunteers,” she added.
Expressing support at the collaboration with We Care Charity, Ford says other community-minded agencies, including 411 Cares and Tufts Health Plan, have also stepped in to offer support.
“411 Cares has been helping provide meals for our veterans since May,” he said. “Between Shefali, Dee O’Neill of 411 Cares and the support of Tufts Health Plan, too, we are all working to collaborate more effectively to reduce the need for our respective services in the first place…VNEOC is thinking big picture.”
Ford is not the only one to think big picture either.
“Our vision is to connect the public, private and nonprofit sectors,” said O’Neill, who has made arrangements with locally owned Fantini Bakery, Chris’s Farm Stand and Benedetti’s Deli to provide assistance. “We are working on agreements with other local businesses to contribute as well .”
Serving MetroWest and Essex, Middlesex and Barnstable Counties (MA) and Rockingham and Hillsborough Counties (NH), VNEOC provides basic food and housing, advocacy as an Accredited VSO, counseling, peer support, case management, employment and education to veterans and their families.