Motorcycle ride benefits HVAF

More than fifty motorcycles revved up for a good cause on August 23 and raised roughly 5-thousand dollars for HVAF. The 6th annual Freedom Ride was a chance for the community to support the work we do and raise money for our programs and services.

After the ride, a live auction was held and included an autographed Colts football, entertainment, and restaurant gift cards.

Thanks to the following sponsors:
Jim and Mary Thompson; S&S Mechanical; Fredericks, Inc.; Freije Asphalt Paving; Indiana Grand Casino; Victory Drive V-Twins; Tank & Piping Contractors, Inc.; The National Bank of Indianapolis; Riders Insurance; Indiana Rolling Thunder; Halstead Architects; American Legion Carmel Post 155.

Thanks to the following donors who contributed to the silent auction:
3 Sisters Café; Arni’s Restaurant; Arts A Poppin; Bellacino’s Pizza & Grinders; Blaze Pizza; Boathouse Grill; CarX; Charlestons; City Barbeque; Classic Cakes; Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants; Dillman Farms; Elsers Auto Repair; Famous Daves; Five Guys Burgers & Fries; Florida Cracker BBQ; Fountain Square Brewery; Gramboli’s Pizza; Great Clips; Handel’s Ice Cream; Hot Box Pizza; Indiana Repertory Theatre; Indianapolis Indians; Indianapolis Southside; Harley Davidson; IndyWest Harley Davidson; Integrity Automotive; Kim’s Kakery, Bakery, and Café; Kings Island; Maggiano’s; Matt the Miller; Mike’s Car Wash; Nunn’s Performance Training; Piada; Regions Bank; Ripple Bagel & Deli; Silver in the City; Smiling Teeth Pizza; Sun King Brewery; The Great Frame Up; The Indianapolis Colts; United State of Indiana; Whole Foods; Yats.

View the slideshow below from the day.



Volunteers spruce up HVAF for homeless vets

Altria Group Distribution Company (AGDC) showed their support of military veterans in August by volunteering at HVAF. Seventeen volunteers cleaned and painted the interior walls at HVAF headquarters to improve veterans housing. The group also held a canned food drive prior to visiting HVAF.

Altria Group Distribution Company
volunteers at HVAF
Altria first learned about HVAF through United Way.

“We enjoyed providing the facility with needed updates for visitors and learning all that HVAF does to support our local veterans,” says Kristina A. Mendoza, Territory Sales Manager, Altria.
Altria also presented HVAF with a $500 check.

“We are so grateful to Altria and all of our partners for creating special days of service benefiting the vets,” says HVAF’s Chief Operating Officer Ron Shelley. “In addition to the volunteer work, Altria has generously donated light switch covers for all light switches on the lower level of HVAF.”

How local dentists are helping military veterans

Robert O. has spent a lifetime being afraid to smile and he says many of those years were spent in pain. The 47-year-old US Army veteran had been unable to find the money necessary to tend to his teeth and years of being homeless and having no insurance led to neglect. Now he is learning to smile again courtesy of a partnership between HVAF and the IU School of Dentistry which began in August 2013.

"This will change my look and self-confidence and hopefully land me a new job," Robert says. “It is exciting to start looking for employment again and I want to be a driver.”

IUPUI has been working with case managers at HVAF to identify and select veterans who seem most likely to get hired and maintain their employment. The idea is to alleviate pain, improve health and boost self-esteem. That could bolster job prospects, not to mention put a decent meal within reach.

Our goal is to help the veterans become more employable by giving them the kind of dental appearance needed for jobs in the public eye,” said Karen Yoder, director of civic engagement and health policy and a professor of preventive and community dentistry. “A person without front teeth, for example, is likely to find it difficult to be hired for a job in a restaurant,” she said.

Yoder applied for and received a $12,000 grant from the Dental Pipeline National Learning Institute for the dental project. After the program was launched $85,000 was secured from additional sources to continue and expand the program.  

“This is a tremendous benefit to our clients and they have been very excited about their dentistry appointments and we are happy this partnership is helping so many veterans,” says Bryan Dysert Director of Programs and Services at HVAF.

Eighteen veterans from HVAF have been treated at IU School of Dentistry at no cost through this program; some have had ten or more appointments and are receiving comprehensive restorative and prosthetic dental services.

Criteria for the dental program include attending one week of job training at the Boner Community Center and align with a Boner Center Job Coach; being present for all dental appointments agreed upon at IU School of Dentistry; being age 60 or younger to maximize years of employability; have one or more missing or broken upper or lower front teeth (cuspid to cuspid) and seeking and/or intending to be employed.

Robert cannot believe the transformation and he is proud to show his smile. He also has accomplished one year sobriety this month.


Program helps Central Indiana’s most vulnerable

Jeff Cook, 52, never imagined he would be near homeless. The Greenfield, Ind. Air Force veteran had nowhere to go after being released from jail. He turned to a program offered at HVAF of Indiana for help. 

The Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program serves veterans and their families who are in eviction status or literally homeless. SSVF is a temporary program (90 days) that helps families by providing case management and housing assistance. The program also helps connect families to community resources that will enable them to maintain permanent housing. The goal of the program is to help veterans become self-sufficient.

Jeff relies on HVAF's SSVF program
On May 1, Jeff called Tisha Jenkins, SSVF’s case manager for Hancock County.  Jeff learned that he qualified for assistance through the SSVF program.   

The SSVF program was able to assist with the security deposit, first month’s rent and securing energy services in his name for his new apartment in Greenfield. 

"I felt relieved and grateful," says Jeff. "I felt like weight has been lifted and I have hope."

Jeff is currently employed and with the help of the SSVF program and is now able to financially support himself. He also has money to save at the end each month after paying his bills. Jeffrey is a prime example of what the SSVF Program is about and how it can help veterans overcome the struggle of homelessness.

If you know of a veteran in need of help, please call us at 317-951-0688.

Once homeless veteran uses his past to help others

Not too many homeless veterans have dedicated their career to helping others in need. But then again, 58-year-old Fred Young isn’t your average guy. Young is the kind of guy whose spirit shines brightly like a meteor streaking through the night sky. But, Fred says it wasn’t always like that. At one point, in his early days out of the military, his thoughts went to darkness. “I’ve spent time in jail and I was previously homeless for 5 years living on the streets in Indianapolis,” he said. “It’s kind of been up and down for me.”

Fred Young
The US Army veteran says his dependency on drugs and alcohol escalated while serving in the military. Alcoholism (alcohol use disorder) is a disease that affects over 14 million people in the US.

“I was good at hiding my addictions, at least I thought I was,” says Fred. “And once I came back home from serving in the military my plan was to take a full year off and party but that year turned into 30 years.”

Fred was not yet committed to changing his life around but he landed a job in production at General Motors where he worked for 15 years. He says after watching his life spin further out of control, he decided to quit his job in fear he would get fired.

Fred sought help at the US Department of Veterans Affairs SATS (Substance Abuse Treatment Services) program.

“The best recovery is when the individual is honest with himself, is open-minded and willing to use the guidance and direction provided by those who have made that journey before him. That is what I did and it works,” says Fred.

Fred is 14 years clean and sober and quit smoking cigarettes 7 years ago.

In March of 2005, Fred was hired at HVAF to work in the Critical Time Intervention (CTI) program. Soon he worked his way up to Coordinator for the Residential Employment Substance Abuse Treatment (REST) program. And in 2011, Fred was certified by the State of Indiana FSSA Division of Mental Health as a Certified Recovery Specialist (CRS) and was upgraded in July of 2014 to an Indiana Community Health Worker/ Certified Recovery Specialist (CHW/CRS).

As Coordinator, Fred says he enjoys seeing positive changes in the veterans’ lives and says he can relate to these men and women who struggle with addictions. He uses the 12-step recovery curriculum to help veterans overcome fears and obstacles.

When you walk past Fred’s office you notice stacks of files of the veterans that he serves and case managers and veterans stop in and out of his office. Fred’s light is always on, shining bright.

HVAF of Indiana names new board officers and directors

HVAF of Indiana, Inc. has named the following new board officers and directors: (Chairman) Andrew F. Noga, AXA Advisors, LLC; (Vice Chairman) Trent Sandifur, Taft, Stettinius & Hollister, LLP; (Immediate Past Board Chairman) Steven C. Benz, Eli Lilly & Company; (Secretary) Jana Karrmann, Karrmann Insurance; (Treasurer) Charles Rainey, US Navy retired; Niki Lyons, Appirio; Bradley Lyons, Telamon.

HVAF success story chosen for United Way simulcast

A story featuring Tony W., an HVAF volunteer, has been chosen for the annual United Way simulcast that will air on all five Indianapolis television stations at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 2. The simulcast is part of United Way's annual campaign kick-off that features stories from organizations making a positive impact in Central Indiana.  

Tony W. in the kitchen
FOX59 will broadcast Tony’s story. Tony, 55, is a United States Army veteran. Years of heavy drinking, drug addiction and poor choices ultimately led Tony to homelessness, and he says he isolated himself from family and friends.

In 2009, Tony came to HVAF for help with his recovery to alcohol addiction. Since successfully completing HVAF’s recovery program in 2014, Tony serves as an active volunteer and a role model for other veterans currently in HVAF’s housing program. Tony’s story is one example of how giving back is helping United Way address a community problem.


Car wash fundraiser update to benefit veterans at HVAF

In our June e-newsletter, we told you about a Summer Car Wash fundraiser held by the Carmel American Auxiliary and Post to benefit HVAF's recovery (REST) program.Roughly $800 was raised.  Funds will be used to provide veterans in the REST program with specific client services and educational materials for their recovery, as well as additional funding for outings for the group.


First HVAF job fair for veterans

Representatives from 10 companies across Central Indiana convened at HVAF of Indiana on July 24 for the nonprofit’s first ever job fair for veterans. Seventy-one veterans and nine employers attended the event.

Veterans bring valuable skills and experience from their military service to the workforce.

Tucker at HVAF's Job Fair
“I’m just putting feelers out to see about getting back into the job market and wanted to get a sense of what it’s going to be like," says Tucker M., US Army veteran and HVAF client.

“I have been out of work for over a year and I was able to meet with multiple companies like the JW Marriott to see if my skills would be a good fit,” says Leah T. a US Army veteran who relies on HVAF’s services and programs.

A 2012 report from the Center for a New American Security CNAS) offers insight into how business leaders perceive veterans — and makes a compelling case to employers that hiring a veteran is good for the bottom line.

“One challenge for job-seeking vets is translating the versatility of their skills to employers, said HVAF Employment Specialist Chasiti Herring."
Job Fair at HVAF

Veterans, according to business leaders interviewed for the report, offer versatility: They’re accustomed to uniform policies and structure, but can adapt to dynamic workplace situations. Vets tend to boast leadership and teamwork skills that outpace those of their civilian counterparts, and they’re often more loyal as well. “Veterans are committed to the organizations they work for,” the report notes, “which can translate into longer tenure.”

Volunteers with Home Depot lend a helping hand at HVAF

Team Depot at HVAF
Clad in orange T-shirts 112 volunteers from Home Depot gave up a day off in July to honor veterans at HVAF of Indiana. The group completed a major renovation project and installed backsplashes in each kitchen at Manchester Apartments. The 51-room apartment building, which is one of two of HVAF co-ed properties, was in need of updating.

Not only did the Home Depot employees give up a day off from work to volunteer at HVAF of Indiana, the company also funded the project. This project was part of a 10-thousand dollar grant in which the Home Depot provided all the materials and labor.

“One of the ways that we live our core values at Home Depot is giving back to the community,” says Tony Davis, Specialty Assistant Store Manager (store #2014). “Being a veteran of the US Army gives me a sense of pride to represent those who have served our country."

“Home Depot has committed $80 million to address the problem of veteran homelessness, to be spent over the next three years,” says Home Depot District Manager Bob Blake. “We are happy to be at HVAF where work is needed to be done to improve the quality of life for these veterans.”

Stand Down

This year's annual Veterans Stand Down event will be held on Thursday, September 11 at AMVETS Post 99 in Indianapolis. Services for veterans include food, clothing, health screenings, haircuts, and much more. Veterans also have the opportunity to learn about services provided to them by several service organizations. Learn more here: