Two wheels help HVAF of Indiana, Inc. veterans move forward

When Chris Campbell, a client at HVAF of Indiana, Inc., opened the door to his Indianapolis, Ind. bedroom one July day, he discovered a new red Raleigh road bike. This was better than any Christmas or birthday present he could imagine because a bike opened up many possibilities and freedoms. Chris was no longer limited to walking everywhere, including work. Campbell's story was the focus of a helping veterans article published in The Indianapolis Star.

Campbell's new bike was assembled in a room at the Putnamville Correctional Facility. A work line has been set up for Shifting Gears, a partnership of Bicycle Garage Indy, Volunteers of America, and the Indiana Department of Correction. Donated bikes are refurbished and then given to nonprofits, like HVAF.

The goal is to provide work opportunities to non-violent offenders and help build self-worth in preparation for re-entry into the community. There are plenty of bikes that need a home.

Campbell has called HVAF home since April 19, 2011. He served as army medic in the 1980's, and worked as a nurse for a live-in client until a disagreement left him out of work and in need of a place to stay. Campbell wasn't proud of his past but he was able to get a new job as a nurse at long-term care facility.

"I'm happy that these guys are able to get to places and do not have to walk. The bike really helps, and it's a great way to help our clients stay active," says Kalisha Hayes, a case manager at HVAF.

HVAF has used Shifting Gears frequently, ordering close to 100 bikes in recent years. The day the last batch came, Hayes picked out a two-wheeler for each veteran.

"It gives you the freedom to enjoy life, to enjoy nice days," says Campbell.


Help HVAF of Indiana, Inc. bring home $25,000 from Home Depot

The Home Depot Foundation has selected HVAF of Indiana, Inc. as one of only four nationwide nonprofits to compete in the September 2011 "Aprons in Action" competition, a unique Facebook program that will earn the winning nonprofit a $25,000 gift card to their local Home Depot store.


HVAF of Indiana, Inc. serves more than 200 homeless military veterans each day and an addition 150 homeless individuals each week. Services include housing, meals and other basic needs as well as personal and professional development training and intensive treatment programs for substance addiction.

Home Depot is the world’s largest home improvement specialty retailer, and to be recognized as a nonprofit making a valuable impact on its community by a company that is household name means a lot in terms of building awareness,” says Charles Haenlein, President & CEO of HVAF of Indiana, Inc.

The Home Depot Foundation "Aprons in Action" competition featuring HVAF of Indiana, Inc. begins at 9 a.m. EST on Thursday, Sept. 1, and ends at 12 p.m. EST on Friday, Sept. 30.

The competition runs through the Home Depot Facebook page. HVAF of Indiana, Inc. supporters simply need to log on to their Facebook page, “Like” the page, and then place their vote for HVAF in provided contest space.


“Winning a $25,000 gift card from Home Depot would be enough renovate an entire HVAF property that serves as many as 40 homeless veterans,” says Ron Shelley, Chief Operating Officer of HVAF. “That’s 40 people who bravely served our country who would have a new and up-to-date place to call home because our supporters went on to Facebook to vote for HVAF.”

HVAF supporters are allowed one vote per person per 24 hour period, and a complete listing of the contest rules are available at the Home Depot Facebook page.

“HVAF has been very lucky in recent years to receive support from Indianapolis-area Home Depot stores, including volunteer days when members of Team Depot helped with renovation and construction work at our properties (see story on page two of the HVAF June, 2011, newsletter),” Haenlein says. “The opportunity to compete in the national "Aprons in Action" was born out of that local partnership, and we couldn’t be more excited."


Navy week sets sail in Indianapolis, HVAF of Indiana, Inc. celebrates

HVAF of Indiana, Inc. clients and staff celebrated 2011 Navy Week at its Moreau apartments, which are home to forty previously homeless veterans.

Navy sailors with the USS Shoup joined in the celebrations and spent time with the HVAF veterans.

"Navy Week gives us a chance to showcase the Navy to all Hoosiers and also give thanks to our veterans," CDR Charles Ridings, Commanding Officer with the Navy Operation Support Center says.

One of the golden thirteen with ties to HVAF of Indiana, Inc. honored by park dedication

When Elayne Lewis talks about her father, the pride comes out of every pore. Lewis, who is the head of residental aid at HVAF of Indiana, Inc., says Lieutenant Junior Grade Graham Edward Martin, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, was a man who championed fairness for people from all walks of life.

"He was a very modest person and never wanted attention for himself, but my father always fought for justice for all people,” Lewis says.

Graham Martin was one of 13 African-American enlisted men who became the first African-American commissioned and warranted officers in the U.S. Navy. The group was known as “The Golden Thirteen.”

A ceremony Wednesday, August 17, 2011, confirmed Martin's place in history. Family, friends and dignitaries attended a dedication ceremony to rename the Fall Creek and 16th Street Park in Indianapolis, IN, in Graham Martin's honor. The dedication was a part of events connected to 2011 Navy Week celebrations in Indianapolis.

You can learn about how parks and recreation officials chose to name the Graham Martin park in honor of The Golden Thirteen member in a story by Indianapolis Fox News affiliate WXIN-TV Fox 59.

"My father was very proud to represent Indianapolis in his military and civilian life, and I am so happy that the city has chosen to proudly recognize him as one of its own," Lewis says.

Martin attended Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis, and in 1941 he graduated from Indiana University, where he played college football. He enlisted in the Navy in 1942 at a time in military history when African-Americans were segregated from the rest of the Navy community. He was married to his high school sweetheart, Alma Patterson, for 57 years, and now his memory will live forever through the park named in his honor.


Newest HVAF of Indiana, Inc. property featured on WISH-TV

HVAF of Indiana, Inc. is as busy as ever! WISH-TV, the CBS News affiliate in Indianapolis, IN, recently caught up with HVAF's Chief Operating Officer Ron Shelley, to discuss HVAF's newest property, a former downtown Indianapolis hotel that will soon open as a housing complex for 51 homeless veterans who need help.

"Each client has an individual treatment plan for whatever issues they have," says Shelley. "They sign that contract agreeing they're going to follow the rules, follow the regulations, and try and get their life on track."

The apartments complex is set to be complete in September. You can help! Whether it's donating coffee makers or lamps, HVAF is in need of items to furnish the rooms. To make a donation, contact HVAF at 317-951-0688 or

You can view the WISH-TV story, which first aired Monday, August 15, below.

Old hotel will soon house veterans in need:


VETERAN PROFILE: The determined marine

Mike S. was just 19-years-old when he vowed to defend the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and joined the Marines. Thirty years later, at age 51, he was homeless and living under a bridge.

The brotherhood of the marines and love for country and adventure is what led Mike to join the Marines in June of 1978. He was making steady pay at the standard armed forces rate. "I loved it," Mike said of his time in the Marines. "I wanted to do something to make a difference and make my family proud.”

After serving with the Marines, Mike went back to civilian life and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, becoming a metallurgist by trade. But a number of stresses soon led to drug and alcohol addiction that he’d battle for years. On May 4, 2010, the Nashville floods caused the factory he worked for to shut down. Like thousands of Tennesseans, Mike became displaced so he traveled to Indianapolis in hopes of finding work at one of the city’s many foundries. Work didn’t come easy, and he lived under a bridge near the White River for thirty days.

“It was hard to stay safe and clean but I wanted to make something of myself and didn’t want to continue going down a wrong path. I wanted a safe place to live and steady job,” says Mike.

In October 2010, after spending a few days at a downtown shelter, he contacted HVAF for help. “Kalisha Hayes, a case manager at HVAF, has helped me a lot. She’s a good person and is always willing to help me with anything. She encourages me to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m taking baby steps,” says Mike.

Mike moved into HVAF’s Warman Apartments in December and was offered a job through a temporary service. With no transportation he walked eight miles to-and-from work before purchasing a bike.

“Mike has a positive attitude and wants to keep moving forward,” says Mike’s case manager. Next month Mike moves into his own apartment and his ultimate goal is home ownership. He has been sober for more than six months. He says the key to change is taking “baby steps.”


HVAF of Indiana, Inc. runner receives recognition

In August, 2011, Lee. W., pictured left, was recognized as Back on My Feet's "Member of the Month" for his dedication and hard work in a national running program.

"I’m surprising myself. I know I’m going to make it; I’m losing the doubt," Lee says.

Back in February 2011, HVAF partnered with Back on My Feet, a national nonprofit organization that promotes the self-sufficiency of those experiencing homelessness by engaging them in running.

Several of HVAF clients, previously homeless veterans, meet once a week at HVAF's Warman apartments along with volunteers for a morning run. Lee along with other runners have built up momentum and have competed in several well-known Indy races, including the Carmel Half Marathon.


Bikers rolled in to support HVAF of Indiana, Inc.

Bikers came from over central Indiana to participate in HVAF's 3rd annual "Freedom Ride" on Saturday, July 30, 2011, at Harley-Davidson of Indianapolis East.

73 bikers participated in the police escorted "Freedom Ride" which is HVAF's largest annual fundraiser.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels
launched the event at 9:30 a.m., with the motorcycle ride beginning immediately after at 10 a.m. at Harley Davidson of Indianapolis. Riders were police escorted through Downtown Indianapolis, and the ride ended at HVAF’s Warman Apartments, 240 N. Warman Ave., one of 17 properties maintained by HVAF that serve as homes for 200 veterans who had been homeless.

At the Warman Apartments, HVAF staff, clients, volunteers and other supporters celebrated a Summer Festival. The Summer Festival was attended by more 300 people who enjoyed family games including horseshoes, bean bag toss, potato sack race, duck pond, ring toss, cake walk. Live music and food were also part of the day.

At the Summer Festival, the Indiana Wing Civil Air Patrol comprised of cadets from the Valparaiso Cadet Squadron CAP, provided the color guard while vocalist Lindsay Shipps performed the national anthem.

The events raised roughly 14-thousand dollars for programs and projects to help veterans and their families recover from homelessness.

Enjoy more event photos in the video below.