Meet Team HVAF: Employment Specialist AlbertaMarch 17, 2021
Vietnam Veterans Day: Watch Vietnam Vet receive special jacketMarch 29, 2021
2020 was one of the toughest years in our lifetime…
…due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So many experienced job loss, food insecurity, homelessness, sickness, and mental health challenges.
For Central Indiana homeless and near-homeless veterans, HVAF was there. As an essential human service agency during a world-wide pandemic, our mission was more important than ever! Our dedicated case managers and outreach staff met the call to action and worked tirelessly to meet the increased demand for emergency housing and basic needs for veterans and their families in our community.
With so much uncertainty in the world, we THANK YOU for stepping up and choosing to support Hoosier Heroes in need. Because of supporters like you, many veterans who found themselves in need of food, shelter, and assistance finding a job (some for the first time in their lives!) were able to turn to HVAF for help.
Demand for food and emergency housing hit an all-time high for HVAF in 2020.
Just last year, we served 1,453 veterans – that’s a unique number and NOT duplicated. Those 1,453 veterans and their families received at least one of the 33,621 services provided in 2020. The food pantry quickly changed from shopping once a month to picking up weekly pre-packaged bags of food and hygiene. Moving into one of our 166 units happened in record time, and emergency hotel stays became a norm.
“Our front-line case managers have served our homeless and at-risk veterans with distinction throughout the pandemic and demonstrated tenacity, grit, and extraordinary resiliency and adaptability in accommodating the many changes forced on them by COVID-19,” said HVAF President and CEO, Brian Copes. “I am so grateful for their professionalism and courage.”
33,000 services were provided to 1,453 Hoosier Heroes during 2020. As we slowly recover from the pandemic, we know that the need continues to be great, and we hope you will stay with us into 2021 as we rise to the challenge. Donate today to help HVAF continue to bridge the gap for our veterans:
And while the state may have been on lockdown, Team HVAF stayed vigilant and never missed a beat…
Case managers and outreach staff provided desperately needed security for Hoosier Heroes like…
Air Force Veteran Jessica
Air Force veteran and former nurse, Jessica, found herself homeless during the shelter-in-place order. After years of couch surfing and unsuccessfully finding somewhere to call home, she did some online research and found HVAF.
HVAF’s case managers moved into action and quickly found Jessica a safe new apartment to call home at HVAF’s Permanent Supportive Housing property – Veterans Villa.
For Jessica, the hardest part of COVID was everything closed down. But she said she received lots of help and support from her HVAF case manager as well as the Veterans Villa’s property manager.
“HVAF has helped me get a hold of the people I need to get a hold of and do everything I need to do while still staying safe and staying virtual” she stated.
Once settled in, Jessica said, “my kids started coming over again. I have a family again.” She was even able to get her own furbaby as a roommate.
Watch our full interview with Jessica below and learn more about how HVAF helped her find safety during a scary time.
Navy Veteran Theresa
Near-homeless Navy veteran and former nurse, Theresa, came to HVAF during the pandemic in June, after the Veteran Affairs Vocational Rehab program closed due to COVID precautions. Because of HVAF’s ongoing strategic partnership with the VA, she was quickly referred to HVAF’s employment program Our Employment Team consists of five employment specialists who help veterans prepare for employment and help with job placement.
Theresa and her Employment Specialist quickly realized that Theresa’s biggest obstacle was getting her nursing license renewed. With available funds specific to supporting employment needs, HVAF paid the fee to renew her nursing license.
At the same time, Theresa needed help with housing, and HVAF housing case manager, Danny, enrolled her into HVAF’s Transition In Place (TIP) Program. This program provides funding so HVAF can cover the lease payments of a new apartment or rental home while the veteran gets back on their feet. Once ready, he or she takes over the lease agreement and payments.
Theresa started working full time quickly, having her nursing license renewed. Within no time, she was able to take over her apartment lease. With HVAF’s help, Theresa and her daughter now has a place to call home.
In the fall for a special Veterans Day as celebration, GEICO partnered with HVAF to offer a veteran a new-to-them vehicle. Theresa’s unreliable car was starting to cause trouble for her as she drove from the southside of Indy to downtown each day for her new job. The Employment team knew when they nominated Theresa for a new car that it would help her overcome this latest barrier and keep her on a successful career path.
Watch Teresa receive her new car below:
Marine Veteran James
On January 1, 2020 – Marine Corps veteran, James, suffered a stroke. Because he couldn’t work anymore and wasn’t receiving any benefits, he lost his home. This led him to HVAF for help.
Within no time, HVAF’s case managers helped James move into his own apartment at Veterans Villa.
Throughout 2020, James tested positive for the COVID-19 THREE times and had to quarantine in his apartment each time. With no one around to help James said he “would text (my case managers) and they would get me what I needed.”
His case manager along with our ‘heart of gold’ Vet Villa Property Manager, made sure James had plenty of food, cleaning supplies, hygiene items, and even made sure he got his mail every day.
Hear more from James below:
Navy Veteran Carie
After experiencing abuse, ongoing sickness, and addiction following her time in the military, Carie came to HVAF for support. Quickly, her case manager got her moved into HVAF’s Veterans Villa and began working to help her overcome the challenges she was facing.
Unfortunately, soon after moving in, Carie was hospitalized at the VA with COVID-19 TWO different times. After quarantining in a hotel each time, HVAF made sure her apartment was clean and safe before her return. Our Community Center staff worked together to collect food, toiletries, and other household supplies for her return, going the extra mile to ensure Carie could come home and focus solely on her recovery.
Carie said she is especially thankful for her Permanent Supportive Housing Case Manager, April. Carie even said she can’t believe how much April cares about her and the other veterans.
“She makes me feel safe. Her kindness is amazing,” Carie said. “She’s something else.”
April is very proud of Carie’s growth while working with her.
“Life can present some chilling setbacks for our veterans … but Carie has been steadfast in weathering the storms,” April said. “She is stronger and, I believe, more hopeful – and ready to embrace the next chapter of her life. It means a lot to me that this program is here to support veterans as they wage war on adversity – and WIN.”
In addition to serving over 1,400 veterans last year, HVAF also completed several important projects to help the veterans we serve. Key projects included…
Renovating and Reopening Veterans Villa
At the end of 2019, HVAF repurposed eight of our transitional living properties to Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) properties. This type of housing allows veterans and their families to stay forever with access to case management. Adding more PSH units was a national calling from federal and city housing agencies to help families have a “forever home” while having access to supportive case management to address ongoing barriers.
One of the housing units, formerly known as the Don Moreau, Sr. Apartments (in honor of the late first HVAF CEO),was revamped from transitional apartment units into permanent supportive units and is now known as Veterans Villa. The complex, exclusively for veterans and their significant others, offers 39 one-bedroom and studio units. Each feature an open kitchen/living room area, updated appliances, and a community “social lounge” where tenants to gather and connect with one another.
Veterans Villa opened at the RIGHT TIME
Just weeks before shelter-in-place orders were mandated, Veterans Villa opened its doors. Within a few weeks, every unit was filled. Most tenants came directly from situations such as homelessness, living on the street, in a temporary shelter, or from sleeping on someone’s couch. Veterans Villa provided a much-needed safe space to call home.
The very first veteran to move in was an older gentleman who won HVAF staff over with his grace and resilience. Vietnam veteran Bruce had been living in his car in a CVS parking lot for weeks when he came to HVAF. He lost his apartment after falling behind on his utility bill payments.
Bruce was immediately placed at HVAF’s Warman transitional property which offers intensive case management in a congregate setting for male veterans. During his brief stay, HVAF case managers worked quickly to get financial assistance to cover what Bruce owed in past bills. Not long after moving into Warman, he was approved to move into Veterans Villa.
Bruce was THE FIRST resident to move into the newly renovated Veteran’s Villa.
“My apartment is my chapel,” Bruce said. “I’m very happy here at Veterans Villa and thank HVAF for all they did for me.”
COVID safety makeover for pantry and lobby
At a time when the need for food and hygiene items doubled and access was an obstacle for all of us, HVAF had to make the tough decision to discontinue veterans to shop inside the pantry. Without missing a beat, our Community Center staff quickly adjusted from an in-person shopping experience to a grab-and-go model distributing pre-packaged bags of food and hygiene items from outside on our porch.
“It was pretty much a shock,” Community Center Specialist Katie Zackery said. “A lot of our veterans depended on us on a day-to-day basis. And for them to not be able to come in and shop for themselves and have to revert back to our pre-packed bags was kind of a shock for us and the veterans.”
It was stressful and heartbreaking seeing the veteran still in need, as we are in a pandemic and have to go through these changes. Not long after that, plans were being made to renovate the Community Center to allow for a safe shopping experience. In December, the renovations were completed, and veterans AND volunteers are now allowed back inside. Once again having the opportunity to shop for what each veteran wants and needs with the assistance of a volunteer.
“I welcome them back with open arms. I’m excited to see everyone come back, volunteers included,” Katie said. “Just being able to provide this dignity back to them is very important to us as well as the veterans.”
The holidays were not the same for most of us in 2020, but HVAF staff worked hard to ensure our veterans had as much of a normal holiday season as possible.
HVAF partnered with local American Legion and VFW posts, as well as corporate groups, providing 86 Thanksgiving meal baskets and 60 Christmas meal baskets veterans over the holidays. Each basket had enough food to feed a family of four and was filled with either a turkey or a ham, several side items, rolls, and a dessert.
In addition to the food baskets, 188 families were “adopted” by generous donors and provided wrapped Christmas gifts for the veteran’s entire family!
Surviving the pandemic with financial assistance…
After COVID-19 shut most businesses down in March 2020, HVAF experienced an increase in donations from individuals like you, and grants from United Way of Central Indiana, IU Health, and 3M Foundation to help guarantee HVAF staff could continue to meet the growing demand for services and assistance in such an uncertain time. Funds received were distributed directly to those veterans with the greatest need in the form of gas and grocery gift cards. Funds also helped keep the pantry stocked, cleaning supplies on hand, and PPE stocked and available.
The funds also created an opportunity to serve veterans in an entirely NEW WAY. Our case managers utilized funds to pay for hotel stays for veterans with nowhere to shelter-in-place and/or to quarantine before moving into housing.
This was a game-changer as local shelters were bursting at the seams and so many homeless individuals needed somewhere to shelter-in-place. Since then, we’ve been able to continue providing emergency hotel stays through the CARES Act funding. HVAF provided immediate housing placement for more than 100 homeless veterans in hotels around the city.
Because of you, HVAF was able to meet the unplanned, increased demand during 2020. YOU made this possible! THANK YOU for supporting our veterans and their families during this unprecedented time. We know we could not have kept up with the increased demand and unplanned need in 2020 without your love and support.
33,000 services were provided to 1,453 Hoosier Heroes during 2020. As we slowly recover from the pandemic, we know that the need continues to be great, and we hope you will stay with us into 2021 as we rise to the challenge.
Donate today to help HVAF continue to bridge the gap for our veterans: