Army veteran receives life changing services at HVAF – including a new car!August 7, 2023
Meet Team HVAF: Case Manager SaraAugust 14, 2023
A few years ago, HVAF opened our first Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) units for veterans and their families in Indianapolis. This long-term program is designed to serve the most vulnerable in our community – those who need intensive case management to maintain and retain housing. In total, HVAF now offers 62 units of permanent supportive housing to veterans and families in our community, including recently opened Proctor Place.
When we ventured into permanent housing, we shifted our mindset from temporary housing assistance to longer term relationships with veterans and their families. And, while we already served families with children in our rapid rehousing programs, we quickly realized that families in our PSH units needed extra support for each member of the family—including all the children!
And as HVAF staff often do—we rose to the occasion! A group formed organically called the Veteran Engagement Committee, to think of creative ways to support the families we serve. I wish I could accurately describe to you the kindness and compassion of this committee—which has grown to include volunteers who love to serve veterans as much as we do! This committee meets regularly and plans fun ways to connect with children and families living in HVAF housing. We’ve hosted Easter egg hunts, Halloween parties, and cook-outs to allow families the opportunity to connect with each other and staff –and have a little fun.
A few weekends ago, I was excited to join with our staff, as well as Rebecca Kasmer from Labcorp and Tammie Hanes from Carrington Mortgage and their families, to host our first ever carnival. The Committee worked hard to plan fun games, face painting, food, and prizes to be shared with children of all ages as a fun way to end the summer. We even had homemade lemon shake-ups and cotton candy!
My husband, Jay, and I worked the prize table, and much like the prize counter at Chuck E. Cheese, we were very busy with customers eager to cash in their tickets for various prizes. We had several bartering for the most coveted prizes—little stuffed unicorns and cosmic bears! My husband taught kids how to use their yo-yos, and for a minute, the 90s called me back and I wore several slap bracelets until they were claimed as prizes.
In our line of work, there are poignant reminders of why we do what we do, and the carnival was one of those days for me. For a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon, a few children, who have had harder lives than they deserve, had a little fun HVAF style. The toughest choices were what flavor of lemon shake up and what color of cotton candy. And, the biggest challenge was how to carry the armload of prizes earned at the duck pond, giant Jenga, and bowling. For the adults at the park, the best noises of the day (and week, and month) were the sounds of pure joy.
I am so honored to be part of a team that cares so much for veterans and families in our community. I am thankful for those like Rebecca and Tammie, who walk alongside us in service to our community and invite you to join us as well. Please help us end veteran homelessness in our community!