Innovative Podcast Series Explores Veteran Issues

Innovative Podcast Series Explores Veteran Issues

Having helped thousands of veterans secure and maintain housing in Massachusetts since 1985, Veterans Northeast Outreach Center (VNEOC) launched the podcast, Voices of VNEOC, earlier this year to shed light on other related issues.

“Housing is a big part of what we do, but it is absolutely not all we do,” said VNEOC’s John Ford, who initially pitched the idea of the podcast series to Jordan Rich of Chart Productions.

Having kept listeners company during their commutes for years as morning drive host for Boston stations like WRKO and WSSH-FM, Rich said he did not need much convincing.

“I have always been a big supporter of veterans, so this project seemed like an important way to demonstrate this commitment to address serious issues affecting our veterans,” he said.

Jordan Rich

These issues include mental health, food insecurity and suicide, all of which have been addressed in the first two episodes of Voices for VNEOC.

“This is a hard-hitting series that looks at the reasons why some veterans struggle after their military service,” explained Ford, who said VNEOC also serves southern NH. “Our hope is to educate the general public on why veterans need our support.”

To that end, Ford said VNEOC recently launched a year-end fundraising campaign, “Voices for Veterans,” which he hopes will not only raise money, but awareness.

“With proper support within a clinical framework, we can help veterans get their lives squared away and become self-sufficient, which is VNEOC’s mission,” he said. 

The ongoing pandemic, however, has made this mission more difficult.

“Revenues are down, expenses are up — this is a very challenging time for not just veterans, but our staff,” said Ford. “We are working as lean as we possibly can, but we are in a financially challenging position right now and need help.”

Rich said he hopes Voices of VNEOC, distributed by Fast Twitch Media, can help propel “Voices for Veterans.”

“VNEOC is an incredible organization,” he said. “I hope our podcast shows their commitment to our veterans and that they are worthy of community support.”

Serving southern NH and northeastern MA, including MetroWest and the Cape, VNEOC provides basic food and housing, advocacy, counseling, peer support, case management, employment and education to veterans and their families. 

To subscribe to Voices of VNEOC, or support “Voices for Veterans, click here.

Veterans Northeast Outreach Center (VNEOC) launches Voices for Veterans Campaign

Veterans Northeast Outreach Center (VNEOC) launches Voices for Veterans Campaign

Serving southern NH and northeastern MA, including MetroWest and the Cape, Veterans Northeast Outreach Center (VNEOC) has launched Voices for Veterans to help bridge funding gaps that result from COVID-19.

“The pandemic has stressed our entire funding model with money that had been earmarked for us instead diverted to other areas of need in the communities we serve,” said VNEOC’s John Ford, director, outreach & development. “Historically, we have never formally asked for assistance from the communities we serve, but that is just not sustainable.”

The fundraising goal for Voices for Veterans is $100,000 by the end of December, 2020.

“The need is urgent, which is why we have launched this campaign, which includes GivingTuesday on December 1,” he added. “Our hope is to create a synergy among community members where individual gifts serve as leverage to encourage others.”

Founded in 1985, VNEOC provides basic food and housing, advocacy, counseling, peer support, case management, employment and education to veterans and their families. These programs and services, explained Ford, are part of “a comprehensive approach aimed at self-sufficiency.”

“The veterans we serve are in transition from unstable to stable environments,” Ford said. “We offer a lot of support in the beginning of their journey with us, but then scale it back through time until they are able to manage their daily lives on their own.”

According to Rachel Hagen, who manages VNEOC’s Transition in Place (TIP) program, the agency’s services are designed to address root causes of the issues that have destabilized veterans’ lives. VNEOC’s services, she explained, work only when participants are motivated to succeed.

“We do not offer handouts,” she said. “In my program, for instance, our role is to help veterans set goals and develop the skills needed to achieve them.”

As veterans  progress through TIP, they assume more of the costs associated with their housing. 

“They then transition out of the program,” she said.

In looking ahead, Ford said he hopes that a public ask for support will help “rally the communities” served by VNEOC.

“We can’t forget our veterans, many of whom face a complex array of circumstances when they return to civilian life ” he said. “They served us, so we must do all we can to serve them. We need their voices to ‘be heard,’ which is our campaign’s rallying cry.”

To contribute to Voices for Veterans click here.

Massachusetts Military Support Foundation to supply food boxes to local veteran communities

Massachusetts Military Support Foundation to supply food boxes to local veteran communities

On Tuesday, September 29, Massachusetts Military Support Foundation (MMSFI) will deliver 1,000 cases of perishable food, including fruit, vegetables, dairy, meat and liquid eggs, to Veterans Northeast Outreach Center  for distribution to local veteran communities.

Funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the program will continue for 4 weeks, possibly 12, and will serve veterans located in the North Shore, Merrimack Valley and southern New Hampshire. Food will be distributed at 57 South Hunt Road, Amesbury, MA.  

The food is part of MMSFI’s FOOD 4VETS program, which has hosted “pop-up” Empowerment Centers throughout the region since the onset of the pandemic.

“MMSFI has taken the lead in meeting the needs of veterans during this pandemic,” said Gail Hewins of Veterans Northeast Outreach Center (VNEOC). “Our role is to help with logistics and making connections to as many local VSOs, veteran agencies, or veteran-related organizations as possible.”

To learn more about the program, contact John Ford at 978-972-1905 or Gail Hewins at 978-891-7639. 

MMSFI’s mission is to provide programs, services and goods that help satisfy critical needs and enhance the well-being and quality of life for veterans, active-duty military and their families in Massachusetts. To learn about MMSFI, visit mmsfi.org.

We Care Charity, 411 Cares and others ‘serve’ the VNEOC community

We Care Charity, 411 Cares and others ‘serve’ the VNEOC community

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.

To learn more about We Care Charity, visit wecarecharity.org. To learn more about 411 Cares, visit facebook.com/411cares.

Asking For Your Help

At this uncertain time, we all receive more “asks” for donations than ever before. Looking around you can certainly understand why that is the case. Many organizations are unable to provide the support they have in the past to the local non-profit communities because their own businesses haven’t been opened or if they are, their business has been significantly curtailed. Many individuals may have been furloughed or even laid off as a result of the pandemic. State and federal programs have seen their funds needing to be spread out over a wider set of needs, or have been significantly cut or worse case, both.

Most of us don’t realize that it is the community that supports the community non-profit organizations on a local basis. This directs much of the local support for non-profits right back into the community itself, multiplying the impact that the local donation can create. Helping organizations meet their community-based missions – housing, food, financial assistance, job training, counseling, advocacy, etc. are all critically important programs that exist to help the community stay healthy and viable.

At Veterans Northeast Outreach Center, we rely on the local community – businesses and individuals – that understand and support our mission – to help us provide the highest quality professional services to the men and women (and in many cases, their families) that have served in our country’s military. They are our neighbors, they work in our community, they shop in our businesses – they are part of our community!

Keep in mind that donating locally has many benefits:

  • You know how your money is being used
  • More of your investment is going directly to providing needed services
  • Community organizations employ community residents
  • You know who you are working with
  • Even a small contribution can make a big difference to your neighbor
  • You can easily visit a local organization to see what they do with your donation

We are asking for your help us help the veterans of your community!