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.
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.
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.