Nevada City Elks Lodge pitches in to help homeless veterans
Special to The Union
The Nevada City Elks Lodge recently teamed up with Grass Valley nonprofit Welcome Home Vets in an effort to end veteran homelessness in Nevada County.
Through a grant secured by the Nevada City Elks Lodge, the group purchased, assembled, and plans to distribute 30 Veteran Life Packs in an effort to show local homeless veterans that their community supports them. These packs, which were obtained as military surplus, are filled with purchased essentials such as T-shirts, socks, gloves, caps, rain ponchos, towels and toiletry kits. In addition, surplus sleeping bags and sleeping mats will be available.
“We are working to try to reach out and offer support to local homeless veterans,” said Ed Sanchez, project coordinator for Welcome Home Vets. “We want these men and women who served our country to know that their community supports them.”
Often, veterans are not aware of benefits or may be intimidated by the prospect of dealing with the bureaucratic maze associated with accessing their benefits.
“We are working to let these veterans know that they don’t have to navigate complex systems and processes all by themselves,” Sanchez said.
Dorothy and Bob Rhodes, co-chairs of the Veterans Services Commission at the Nevada City Elks Lodge, coordinated the efforts of securing and assembling materials for this project.
Dorothy Rhodes described it as “a very rewarding and meaningful way for the Elks to give back to the community. We want our fellow citizens who happen to be homeless veterans to know that we honor what they gave up at some point in their lives to serve our Nation-to protect our way of life.”
“It was a really rewarding feeling to know that we are doing something meaningful for homeless veterans right here in our own backyard,” Bob Rhodes said.
Rosie Doolittle, owner of Swenson’s Outdoors in Grass Valley, partnered with Bob Rhodes. Rosie helped Bob make the purchase of non-donated items with special discounts and her advice on items that would deliver the most value.
“I was happy to do whatever I could to find the best items I could to help this project,” Doolittle said. “This is an important problem to tackle locally and I am proud to have teamed up with the Nevada City Elks and Welcome Home Vets.”
On a recent afternoon, volunteers assembled at the Nevada City Elks Lodge to put all the packs together. There were items that had to be packed into the 30 packs and the volunteers swarmed to get the job done in about an hour.
Volunteers from the Elks included Mike Blanton, Danielle Steadman, Joe Macaluso, Ellen McCord, Elsie Durgin, Bob Rhodes and Dorothy Rhodes. Volunteers from Welcome Home Vets included Connie Holley, Ed Sanchez, Teresa Sanchez, Ron Kapper and Nadine Kapper.
After the “packing party”, all the volunteers stayed for a spaghetti dinner potluck hosted by the Elks.
The kits are going to be distributed in several ways. They will be available in the offices of Welcome Home Vets at 255 S Auburn St. in Grass Valley (530-272-3300) and the Nevada County Office of Veteran Services at 988 McCourtney Road also in Grass Valley (530-273-3396).
Throughout the summer months, volunteers will be visiting areas where homeless veterans typically set up camp in an effort to distribute these packs to veterans in need.
The community is encouraged to spread the word and suggest to homeless veterans that they contact either of the above groups for help and as a way to demonstrate our commitment to the vitality of our communities.
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