Formerly homeless veteran helps other veterans

After leaving the Air Force in 1981, James M., 53, was doing pretty well. “I was living a pretty successful life. If there was unemployment, I was able to navigate that. Unfortunately, I became addicted to drugs. It started out as recreational and seemed fun, but when I recognized it as a problem, I couldn’t get out.” Life spiraled downward for James, and he soon was homeless and was alienated from his family.

James came to HVAF and completed the REST Program in 2006. “At the REST program, I had to deal with the wreckage of my past. There were a lot of consequences in reconnecting with my family. It was a journey.” After working for the Salvation Army, James applied for a Peer Mentor position at HVAF, and was hired in March of 2012. James now takes pride in helping other veterans through some of the same situations he faced. “I like being able to use my own experiences and struggles to help other veterans who are coming through the program. It made me feel, like just maybe, I was meant to go through all that I went through.” 

James credits Matt Greenlee with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Fred Young with HVAF for his success.

IndyCar community helps renovate veteran home

A downstairs half bathroom and new flooring were welcome additions to Jackson House, which provides supportive housing for U.S. Armed Forces veterans.

A pool table in the living room of the downtown Indianapolis residence was an unexpected gift. So were tickets to the Indiana Pacers home game on Veterans Day.

HVAF teamed up with the “Pit Crew,” comprised of volunteers from Panter Racing, Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing, INDYCAR Ministry and the IndyCar community to renovate the interior of the house that is home to six veterans.

William Price, a U.S. Army veteran, is among the residents at the Jackson House after he lost his job of 17 years.

“It’s a great feeling to be appreciated,” says Price.

Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing driver Charlie Kimball was among the volunteers who scraped, painted, laid flooring, assembled the pool table and spruced up the dwelling that was dedicated in 2000.

Kimball also held food drives leading up the renovation project unveiling.

Read the full story here:


View HVAF's slideshow of before and after photos here:


HVAF program extends to outlying counties

HVAF can help veteran families with rental and utility assistance for those who qualify for its Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. HVAF has expanded this program to include several counties.

In October 2011, United Way of Central Indiana (UWCI) was awarded a grant for Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The award benefits HVAF and has since helped more than 300 households. 

“Because of the SSVF grants, HVAF will be able to provide a range of services that promote self-sufficiency among veterans and their families,” says HVAF President & CEO Charles Haenlein. “SSVF helps with transportation and bill paying.”

SSVF aims to prevent at-risk veterans from becoming homeless and to rapidly re-house those who recently became homeless through services promoting housing stability and connecting veterans and their families to mental health care and other benefits to which they are entitled.

New funding will benefit approximately 400 veterans and their families in Central Indiana each year. It can be used to offer temporary financial assistance to veterans for rent and utility payments, security deposits and moving costs. HVAF and HealthNet Homeless Initiative Program administer the services locally.

HVAF’s SSVF Contacts & Schedule
1) Rachel Brown
SSVF Coordinator
Office: (317)951-0688 Ext. 2113
Cell: (317)225-6121
Fax: (317) 951-0812

Office: HVAF main building located at 964 N. Pennsylvania St. Indianapolis, Ind. 46204

2) Kayla Hinkle
SSVF Case Manager
Hendricks and Morgan Counties
Office: (317) 951-0688 Ext. 2253
Cell: (317) 339-0220
Fax: (317) 951-0811
Martinsville in Morgan County, City Hall on Monday afternoons from approximately 1-4:30 PM.
59 S. Jefferson St. Martinsville, IN 46151
Danville, United Way office in Hendricks County Thursdays: 9 AM – 12 PM
56 Main Street, Danville, IN 46122

3) Gretchen Hiller
SSVF Case Manager
Johnson and Shelby Counties
Office: (317) 951-0688 Ext. 2224
Cell: (317) 370-1949
Fax: (317) 951-0811

Work One Shelbyville (Shelby County), Mondays: 9:00am-12:00pm, located at 130 W. Rampart Rd Shelbyville, In 46176
Johnson County Public Library-Franklin Branch (Johnson County), Thursdays: 9:00am-1:00pm, located at 401 State Street Franklin IN 46131
Other Possible Office Spaces:
Veteran Service Office in Courthouse Annex in Franklin (Johnson)- possible office space by January 2014

4) Tisha Jenkins
SSVF Case Manager
Hamilton, Hancock, and Boone Counties
Office: (317) 951-0688 Ext. 2238
Cell: (317) 453-9175
Fax: (317) 951-0811

Hamilton County: 
Shepherd’s Center: Tuesdays 1:30pm-5:30pm, located at 347 S. 8th St. Noblesville, IN 46060
Boone County:
Lebanon Public Library (Boone County), Wednesdays: 1:30pm-5:30pm, located at 104 East Washington Street Lebanon, In 46052 (by appointment only, otherwise I’m doing outreach in the county)
Hancock County:
Hancock Hope House, Thursdays: 1:30pm-5:30pm, located at 35 East Pierson Street Greenfield, In 46140
Other Possible Office Spaces (by appointment only):
Noblesville Library (Hamilton County)- small office space
Sheridan Public Library (Hamilton County)- small office space

5) Shawnita Rupert
SSVF Case Manager
Marion County
Office: (317) 951-0688 Ext. 2118
Cell: (317) 281-8829
Fax: (317) 951-0812

Office: HVAF main building located at 964 N. Pennsylvania St. Indianapolis, Ind. 46204

6) Tom Tuttle
SSVF Case Manager
Marion County
Office: (317) 951-0688 Ext. 2102
Cell: (317) 370-9560
Fax: (317) 951-0812

Office: HVAF main building located at 964 N. Pennsylvania St. Indianapolis, Ind. 46204

HVAF hosts Marion County delegation

HVAF held its first ever legislative breakfast on November 8th to share information with our state elected officials. Several members of the Marion County delegation met with HVAF board members and staff for breakfast and a tour of the facility.

We were pleased to share information with our elected officials about our mission and the men and women we serve. Speaker Brian Bosma, Representatives Ed DeLaney, Karlee Macer, Cherrish Pryor, Mike Speedy, and Senators Jean Breaux, Michael Crider, and Pat Miller joined HVAF board members and staff.

“Without the tremendous support we receive from our community and elected officials, we would not be able to fulfill our mission,” says Public Policy Coordinator Emmy Hildebrand.  “I’m grateful for the members of the Marion County delegation that took the time to learn more about our organization and the men and women we serve.”

During the meeting HVAF staff discussed the history of HVAF, our clients and current programs, and some of the challenges that may be in our future. 

Indiana State House Representative, Karlee D. Macer, added, "It’s great to have everyone working together to empower our veterans and community.”

A tour of HVAF’s veteran recovery program known as REST was led by Social Worker Curtis Williamson. 

Unique Home Solutions partners with HVAF for fundraiser

Check presentation 11/19
Unique Home Solutions, one of the largest home remodeling companies in Indiana, raised more than $21,700.00 for HVAF during a year-long fundraiser that culminated with a Hog Roast Dinner Veterans Day weekend at Sully’s Bar & Grill. 

“I admired my cousins who served in the military and I saw the sacrifices they made and that moved me,” says Bob Dillon, CEO of Unique Home Solutions.

WTHR's Angela Buchman

Bob learned about HVAF through his corporate attorney, Russell Cox, who also serves as an HVAF founding member and current board member. Now Bob’s Unique Home Solutions team of 150 is raising awareness and funds through this fundraiser.

“This was an opportunity for Unique Home Solutions to show our support of military members,” says Bob.

“Because of the funds and awareness raised we are able to do so much more to help veterans on the street this winter. Food, clothing, and transportation are so important for these veterans. We are proud to partner with Unique Home Solutions and are elated that they held this fundraiser for us here,” says HVAF’s President & CEO Charles Haenlein.

The group plans for another successful fundraiser for HVAF next year.


40,000 Pounds of Giving teams up with HVAF

Bring canned and packaged food to the annual Circle of Lights Celebration downtown on Monument Circle on 11/29 for collection by 40,000 Pounds of Giving for veterans at HVAF. HVAF staffers will be along the Circle to collect your canned food donation. You can also make a monetary donation to HVAF. 

"We're encouraging all Hoosiers to show up with canned goods," said Carl Denny organizer of 40,000 Pounds of Giving.

People who drop off donations don't even have to get out of their cars. HVAF vans will be set up along the Circle. Donations will be used to stock the shelves of the HVAF food pantry which helps feed homeless veterans who turn to HVAF for a warm meal.

"We're serving 3 meals each day and providing canned food for an additional 200 homeless veterans through our outreach efforts. This is a busy time of year," says VP of Marketing Debra Des Vignes.

"Get into the holiday spirit and donate a few cans of food and help those who served us," Denny adds.

You can donate during the Circle of Lights Celebration on Friday, November 29 from 6-8 p.m. 


Former soldier looks back on World War II experience as just another day in life

Woodrow Hairl
It's the duffle bag Sgt. First Class Woodrow Hairl used when he enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II.
He still uses it today.  

Ask the 87-year-old Greenville, Mississippi man about his war-time experiences and he’ll be happy to fill you in. He doesn’t think his story is compelling.

He served under General George S. Patton and traveled all over Europe from 1945-46 as a member of the US Army. 

“I was just a southern boy growing up in Greenville before the war. We raised cotton, corn, and peanuts."

Woodrow is remarkably modest. “This is what was asked of us. This is what we did and it made a man out of me.”

“I was in Germany and heading to Japan on the Queen Mary when the first atomic bomb was dropped by a U.S. aircraft on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. That's when I decided to get out of the military,” he adds.

After his service, he moved to Chicago where he lived for 20 years. That's where he met Dr. Martin Luther King ,Jr., and stood beside him sweeping streets before dusk in an effort to clean up urban neighborhoods. Woodrow held odd jobs during this time: airport bus driver and certified welder for the government.

Woodrow receives food items at HVAF
He struggled to keep a job which led to financial hardship. He came to HVAF in 2012 for help.

“If it wasn’t for HVAF, I don’t know where I’d get my next meal.”

Once a month for the past year, Woodrow has been relying on HVAF for food, toothbrushes, deodorant, clothes and other hygiene items that help get him through each month. Still, he struggles to understand his financial loan information.

Woodrow has made a lasting impression on HVAF staff members as well as outreach volunteer, Jim Thompson.

"I thought he’d be a good candidate for the Indy Honor Flight, whose mission is to transport American's veterans to Washington DC to visit the Memorials, but then I didn’t see him again for six months. I owe him because everything I have is because of people like him who served to protect our country,” says Jim, “I plan to be his sponsor on the trip.” 

“I’m very excited to have been selected for Indy Honor Flight and to see the monuments on April 5,” says Woodrow. I'd like to think I leave a little history and I hope I did some good in this world and I think I did," he said.

Associated Builders and Contractors Renovate Garage at Loyd House

HVAF was fortunate to have contractors from the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) volunteer to remodel the garage at HVAF’s Loyd House. Randen Miller, HVAF’s maintenance director, commented on how valuable this will be.

“This will be a much needed improvement for storing donations and every day needed items for veterans when they depart the program,” says Randen.  

Contractors with Wurster Construction
One of the contractors was Al Wurster, president of Wurster Construction, a 75-year-old family company in Indianapolis. He commented, “My dad said that you have to give back to the community that gives to you. We are very thankful and that’s why we got involved.” Wurster also explained that they were replacing the siding, hanging overhead door, the ridge vent, and more. 

Ivanna Weyland, an 11 year employee of Wurster, has had two daughters in the Marines. She explained, “There’s no bigger family than the military family. We were very excited to hear about this and wanted to get started right away.” 

It was a very fun group that volunteered at the Loyd house. They even grilled out for lunch with some of the veterans who live there. 

One Army veteran, Kenneth P., remarked, “It’s a very nice thing for them to come out and help us veterans. It means a lot that they’re taking time to show their gratitude.”

View our slideshow of the week by clicking this link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/98270100@N02/10591396844/

HVAF named Simons Bitzer & Associates Contest Winner

We received some exciting news at HVAF! Simons Bitzer & Associates, a locally owned and operated accounting firm in Indianapolis, named HVAF as their winner in their local charity contest. Simons Bitzer was looking for new charities to support and did research on local charities in Indianapolis. HVAF was selected as one of the top three organizations and then won the contest after a staff vote. 

The firm has been collecting hygiene items and canned goods for HVAF. In addition to donations, they will also be coming on November 16 to do some cleaning and painting at our HVAF properties. They plan to continue to collect hygiene items and spread the word about HVAF.

Lisa Rollings, director of Business Development at Simons Bitzer & Associates, was very excited about helping HVAF. “We wanted our team to physically come in and help to provide support. We hope to give back and help others and also plan to enter HVAF into the CWAM Contest for a bigger financial donation. That winner will be announced in November.”

We thank Simons Bitzer & Associates for their support and look forward to the contest in November.