A hand up, not a handout

Published 12:15 pm Saturday, June 23, 2012

To the Editor:

Over 2,500 homeless veterans reside in the Hampton Roads area. One out of every four homeless persons in Hampton Roads is a military veteran.

These statistics come from Vetshouse Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization headquartered in Virginia Beach that provides a 12-month program to veterans, including transition housing, job placement, personal skills and development counseling, food and transportation. Its mission is to help veterans return to gainful, independent, responsible and productive lifestyles.

The members of the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4411 in Franklin became involved in assisting this program about four years ago and has provided over $600 in cash donations.

Member Rose Chapman, with help from her friend, Judy Taylor, has gathered a van full of clothing, non-perishable food and personal hygiene items for once-a-month delivery for the past three months. Some serious coupon shopping resulted in $1,500 worth of donations in May, of which about $40 was personally donated by these ladies to pay sales tax or cover the cost over coupons.

Members of the VFW post, and their friends and family members have become involved. Donations have come in from Scott Overmire of Farm Fresh (25, $5 food bags for each of the three deliveries) and from Pat Good of Food Lion (two cases of toilet paper). Good is also the Ladies Auxiliary president.

Willard “Smitty” Smith, executive director for Vetshouse Inc., manages the day-to-day operations of two duplexes with 16 resident veterans and a recently leased a home for four more.

They are funded through donations from individuals and businesses, fundraising events and periodic grants from the City of Virginia Beach.

While all donations are greatly appreciated, he says that gift cards to the grocery stores in their area (Food Lion, Farm Fresh, Kmart, Walmart and Sam’s) would allow him to buy fresh food and perishables for residents. They also need men’s clothing in all sizes.

The next delivery is planned for June 30. Donations can be taken to Post 4411 at the end of John Beverly Rose Drive at the Franklin Municipal Airport, or by calling 569-8169.

Donations also can be dropped off at my shop, Franklin Art & Frameworks, 221 N. Main St., or by calling 516-2660 during hours of business. Chapman can he reached at 562-7318.

Gayle Schmitz
Life member of the Ladies Auxiliary for Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4411