It was not exactly the smooth sounds or motions of Motown but a blur of noise, colors (mostly orange), activity, yard equipment movements, cars and trucks being guided by traffic guards, pounding hammers, wheelbarrows rolling, noisy chippers, buckets carried, … It was heartening to see in the “rustic” downtown area of Detroit to see these bright orange clad volunteers turning the sounds of cacophony into a smooth jazz park for our homeless veterans in the area!
MilitaryAvenue’s MilAve_Dan and Mil_Col_K had to follow up on this kind offer to see and report on this Volunteers of America Michigan, The Mission Continues, Home Depot Foundation and Veteran Affairs effort. It was a beautiful day to work outside and work they did! More than 200 volunteers as Tiffani McCardell proudly exclaimed! Tiffani is a proud Air Force veteran of Minot AFB, ND of “Why Not Minot; Freezin is the Reason” fame. A coordinator with nerves of steel (she did load bombs after all), she is a fellow with the Mission Continues that coordinated the day’s activities with all the players and brought it together.
Aprons in Action Volunteers
Patrick Patterson, Vice President of Operations for Volunteers of America MI had invited us to see the new facility and watch the park being built across the street for veterans. He proudly took us on a tour of the facility as others worked to finish before the projected opening date on Veterans Day (11/11/11 at 11 AM). The renovated building will house 60 homeless veterans already on a waiting list in the 28,000 square facility that includes many features learned from previous experience according to Patrick. A secure place for veterans with many needs including counseling and medical treatment for the ravages of PTSD, TBI, drug and alcoholic addictions and mental illnesses. VOA has about an 80% success rate in approximately 9-12 months of treatment/housing. Success means contributing to society, permanent housing, continuing education and/or employment (if able).
But the focus of the day was outside as we watched the volunteers from Home Depot creating a park out of nothing in the empty lot across the street. Chris Gilbert, District Manager, Midwest Region of Home Depot brought volunteers from Bowling Green, OH to Lapire, MI, to East Lansing to Detroit in this effort to construct the park. Chris was excited about the effort as we talked and the volunteers felt the same as they shared their “passion” to help veterans and “make a difference” in their lives. It was “their turn to serve” as one explained their desire to help. Their orange Aprons in Action are certainly in action with service projects. The Home Depot Foundation “Celebration of Service” partnership with The Mission Continues is funding and providing manpower for 200 service projects across the country before Veterans Day.
Alex Brodrick discuss plans with Col KThe workers were fantastic and Alex Brodrick, the President of VOAMI told me about the Veteran Affairs participation in this effort as we watched the activity and enjoyed the sun (a beautiful fall day in Michigan is sometimes hard to come by). Alex said the VA deserved “Applause” for their efforts to care for homeless veterans. The facility was funded by $1.5M grant from the VA, $150,000 from the Home Depot Foundation and continues to seek gifts for the remaining funds for the $2.5M facility. Both Alex and Patrick said Patricia Wolschon, VA Director of Homeless Services in Detroit, deserved a shout out for her work. Isn’t it great to hear good news stories that support our veterans.
They were all thereThe Mission Continues “Its Not A Charity. It’s A Challenge” Vice President of Programs spoke to us about their mission to help as well. Meredith Knopp is a Army veteran married to a retired soldier and both enjoyed the day as we talked to so many veterans there to help other veterans! It was amazing the number of veterans, they were from all five services, that were there to help but the civilians who cared were there too! Passionately working, building, sculpting, cleaning, arranging, chipping away old brush, turning an empty lot into a park facing a homeless veteran facility! It was a fantastic day! Thank you all! The Supremes, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Smokey Robinson, Dionne Warwick, The Temptations are singing in the background, can’t you hear them?…
Photo Credits: MilAve_Dan MilitaryAvenue four photos
Photo Credits: Gene Fleszar Home Depot photo of Alex Brodrick and Col K
To see more photos go to https://picasaweb.google.com/101948308021030115838/TeamDepotDetroitOct52011?authuser=0&feat=directlink&gsessionid=zcd2cv6zAaNBbzYdJmjOfQ#byColonel KonThursday, October 06, 2011Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to PinterestMilitary Life:Col K,Home Depot Foundation,Homeless Veterans,Veterans,Veterans Day,Volunteer