Employee spotlight

Jaye Blythe, 47, joined HVAF in June 2013 as our Housing Specialist. She helps veterans who leave HVAF transitional housing program to enter permanent homes of their own. Blythe has a BSW in Social Work.

What attracted you to the position at HVAF?
I’ve always wanted to work with the homeless population and veterans hold a special place in my heart.

Jaye Blythe
What do you do?
I handle all the applications for our GPD Housing Program and help the veterans who are on the housing wait list. I manage the wait list and the housing roster for the case managers. Another aspect of my position at HVAF is permanent housing. I get referrals from the case managers for the veterans leaving our program and going into their own permanent housing. I work with those clients to determine their priorities for housing; provide housing resources and assist in obtaining the housing.

What do you enjoy most about working at HVAF?
I enjoy giving back to a population of our society that has given so much for the people of this country. It is very rewarding to be a part of the process of getting someone off the streets and into a warm home out of the elements. I am very grateful for the things that I have and the comforts of my own life. I believe that part of being grateful, for me anyway, is to give back in some way. Helping those that are most vulnerable is a part of what I am committed to as a social worker. I have been through a lot of challenges in my own life and I would not be where I am today if I didn’t have people who cared enough to help me through those struggles. I enjoy being a listening ear, friendly smile and someone who genuinely cares for others at HVAF and beyond.

How do you enjoy spending your free time?

I enjoy spending time with family and friends. At church, I am a Communion Team Leader and sing in the Gospel choir. I love to camp, grill out, throw parties, and go to the theater, concerts, museums, and art galleries. I am an avid reader and I love movies, animals (especially turtles!) and being outdoors. I have a new baby boy that I can’t wait to share all these things with! 

Become a Friend of HVAF

Consider becoming a Friend of HVAF today. Your contribution of $1,000 a year through this partnership program can furnish an apartment for a veteran for one year. 

We created the Friends of HVAF program to steward special partnerships with people and organizations that want a unique opportunity to serve the brave men and women who have served all of us. 
When you become a Friend of HVAF, you are more than a donor. You are a partner. A partner in our shared work to return honorable U.S. military veterans to self-sufficiency after living through homelessness, substance abuse and other life challenges.

U.S. Army veteran Ron W., 55, is benefiting from HVAF programs and services. After a few years of living hand to mouth, Ron had had enough and entered HVAF's housing program for help. Ron recently received keys to his own apartment with the help of HVAF's Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program.

You can give a gift of support by making your corporate or individual donation here.

Helping heroes improve their quality of life

HVAF is partnering with Simons Bitzer & Associates to provide free financial literacy and skill-building classes. In March, more than 20 veterans learned the basics of budgeting from maintaining a check book to retirement planning.

“We were excited to meet them and present financial education on many issues including ways to avoid financial scams as well as to balance a checkbook,” says Lisa Rollings of Simons Bitzer & Associates.

Research shows that veterans are more likely to end up homeless not just because of stress related to their military service but also because of poor financial skills. A new report in the American Journal of Public Health found that military members in general are less familiar with household budgets, more likely to be targets for predatory lenders and “may not have the opportunity to learn the skills necessary for being financially independent and managing money.”

“The class was helpful in that it showed me ways to better keep a budget by using an Excel sheet and keep track of what’s coming in and what’s going out,” says Roy E., 55, an Army veteran.

Rollings says her company’s goal is to hold regular financial education classes at HVAF and keep them engaging and relevant so that those who leave our transitional housing are armed with the tools they need.

Two brothers’ banded together to beat addiction

Ron W., 55, is a United States Army veteran who was stationed in Ft. Jackson, South Carolina; Ft. Gordon, Georgia; and Ft. Hood, Texas in the 1970’s. He worked on teletype machines.

“It kept me on my toes and really made a man out of me,” says Ron.

Years of drinking and poor choices ultimately led Ron to homelessness, and he isolated himself from family. Ron says he took on odd jobs to stay afloat. However, in 1987, Ron’s addictions to alcohol and drugs increased.

“My older brother also struggled with addiction and so our stories are very similar," says Ron. "Like him, I became homeless and a burden on my family and we both burned a lot of bridges along the way.”

In 2009, Ron followed his brother again, but this time into recovery. He came to HVAF for help shortly after his brother had entered HVAF’s substance abuse recovery program called REST. The brothers banded together. They slept under the same roof at HVAF - something they hadn’t done in years.

“It is unique to have brothers in our recovery program at the same time,” says Fred Young, REST program coordinator. “Ron has persevered with his treatment, but the battle with addiction is never over so we encourage him to continue to stay focused now more than ever.”

Ron has moved through each phase of HVAF’s recovery program successfully and recently received keys to his own apartment with the help of HVAF’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. He spends his time during the week volunteering in HVAF’s kitchen where he prepares meals for his fellow veterans (the group is happy to tell you about his famous meatloaf, ribs, and mac and cheese).

Tom Tuttle, Ron’s SSVF case manager, says Ron’s transformation has created his desire to give back to the organization that helped him when he was in tremendous need.

“Ron stays active and serves a role model for other veterans in our housing program,” says Tom.

Nowadays, Ron enjoys stability, a peace of mind, a sense of self-worth and a drive to help out his surrounding community.


Volunteers spend Spring Break giving back

A dozen students from the University of Connecticut took a pass on Spring Break fun in the sun in order to make a real difference in the lives of HVAF veterans in March.

The student group, representing the university’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, participates in alternative spring breaks each year, which take them to several nonprofits in different cities across the county.

Spring Break 2014 was third year for the group to volunteer at HVAF. Students sorted and stocked donations distributed to homeless veterans and their families in need.

The student team researches nonprofits at the beginning of the year and selected ones where they feel they could make the biggest impact. Along with online research, this year’s HVAF volunteers talked to past UConn students who had previously volunteered on behalf of our vets.

Volunteering is how junior, Danielle Reid has spent many of her spring breaks.

“I’m really happy to do this, and it’s a different kind of experience,” Danielle says.

To recognize the students’ work, HVAF shared on its social media pages photos and memorable student quotes from the group’s experiences, using the hashtag #UCGAB, which stands for UConn Greek Alternative Break.

"Everyone should help out in the community,” said Isabela Galvao, another student volunteer. “I think this, personally, because it just makes a place better if you're going to help, so I just try to make that my top priority."


Wish List

HVAF is in need of pasta, soup and hygiene items for our homeless veterans. Please call 317-951-0688 to make your donation.