Law firm gives back to veterans at Christmas

Barnes & Thornburg has regularly adopted a family in need at Christmastime. This year, the law firm’s attorneys and employees decided that, in addition to adopting a family, they wanted to provide a happier Christmas for others in Indianapolis. Their thoughts went immediately to the older citizens and veterans in our community.

Because of Barnes & Thornburg attorney Bill Moreau’s involvement in HVAF of Indiana, Inc. and the desire to honor veterans, firm employees decided to create a giving tree and buy gifts for veterans at the Manchester Home and the Moreau Home. “You can’t turn on the news without seeing a story about a member of the military having to be away from his or family at Christmas, or coming home just in time for the holidays. So it’s great we can do a little something to make the holidays happier for our veterans, who fought so hard for our freedom,” said one employee. The Moreau Home is named for Bill’s father, Col. (ret.) Donald W. Moreau, Sr., a former HVAF board member and president, who had a 28-year Army career followed by a 20-year career in Indiana state government. Col. Moreau was recently inducted as an inaugural member of the Indiana Military Veterans Hall of Fame.

The employees of the law firm enjoyed learning what each veteran put on his or her Christmas list. “Some of the veterans asked for so little, we wanted to know what more we could give them,” said Judy Worland, one of the Barnes & Thornburg employees who took part in the giving tree. The lists included everything from the basic necessities to personal items to specific types of clothing. And the attorneys and staff were happy to oblige; many also gave gift cards to the veterans so they could shop for additional items they might need.

Donald E., 62, a Navy veteran also found housing at HVAF’s Manchester Apartments in May of 2014. He will be transitioning from HVAF’s supportive housing to his own apartment soon and was extremely grateful for the microwave he received.

Many of the Barnes & Thornburg employees included personal notes and letters to the veterans, saying thank you for their service. Others asked if they could send homemade treats, which were welcomed by the veterans at the Manchester Home and the Moreau Home.

“Once again, my Barnes & Thornburg colleagues have stepped up in a significant way to support a special group of Indianapolis citizens, those who served our country honorably only to find themselves without a place to call home,” said Bill Moreau. “This is just one of countless examples of the firm’s support for those agencies that serve the poorest of the poor, and why I am so proud of this place.”

The firm also bought gifts for the residents in a local nursing home.

Staffing company gives back to veterans at HVAF

Toys, TV’s and a truck load of gift bags filled with hygiene items were delivered and distributed  to HVAF for three veteran families this year. It was all part of PME Enterprises' annual Christmas giving program. Ralph M. was a recipient of the gifts. He was once a homeless US Army veteran. In 2011, HVAF provided him with housing and he also received help with his addiction to alcohol and drugs through the organization’s recovery (REST) program. While Ralph works full-time, he still struggles to provide for his 9-year-old daughter Lakin, especially around the holidays.

Ralph M. with gifts under tree
“I ration my gas every week. I limit driving to a minimum, and carefully plan my grocery store trips strategically around pay day, and sometimes that doesn’t even work out. So, thank you for removing that burden for a while,” says Ralph.

Families were also provided a gift card to use for the purchase of a Christmas meal.

Danny Portee, CEO of PME Enterprises, a service disabled veteran owned company said: “Giving back to local veterans is our promise and as staff we believe this is important too. When we heard about HVAF families in need, we knew we had to help. We want to make sure the most vulnerable families can benefit."

Lisa Sandoval, a mother of two small children, also shared her gratitude.

“I could never in a million years be as surprised and overjoyed as I was. Someone out of the kindness of their heart adopted us and gave my children not only what they wanted but so much more. This year my kids had the best Christmas to date because of HVAF and someone I consider Our Christmas Angel.”

Sarah Jacob, 28, says life’s challenges has been up or down for a few years. Her husband Joshua served in the US Army and after several setbacks they didn’t know how they would provide for their two kids this year.

“The gifts were very much appreciated. I did not expect to get as many gifts or as big of gifts. Our two kids were so excited for Christmas and we are hopeful as we head into the New Year.”
PME Enterprises also provided an additional 200 veterans with gift bags of essential needs.

Formerly homeless veteran's cooking inspiration

Those years of service as a US Navy cook are still at the top of Pamela’s mind, and decades later the 56-year-old is back at it cooking meals for family and friends. In her spare time she enjoys dishing up fried chicken and fried potatoes and onions.

In 1975, Pamela followed the footsteps of her eldest brother and enlisted in the Navy where she served for 10 years. She was stationed up and down the east coast before being discharged for medical reasons.

“I enjoyed serving in the military and my role as Navy cook was most interesting and meant that I was busy each day cooking warm meals each day,” she says.

Pamela J. at HVAF
She never imagined that she would be one day be homeless and in need of food and shelter. After a number of setbacks Pamela was laid off. She drew unemployment but says that ran out. Pamela was homeless for 30 days before calling HVAF. She entered HVAF’s housing program in May 2014 and was proud to have a roof over her head at the Moreau House. There she worked with a Case Manager to get back on her feet and continued to cook meals for her fellow veterans.

“For four months, HVAF provided housing and sense of security and I was no longer afraid of where I was living,” she adds.

When Pamela was ready to move out of HVAF supportive housing and into her own apartment, she qualified for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program provided by HVAF which assists qualified veterans with rental and utility payments. Shawnita Yarbro, HVAF’s Case Manager, says, “I have seen positive changes in Pamela. Her service in and out of the military continues to impact those around her and we can all take lessons from her. She is just the classic example of goodness in that if you work hard you will see results," Shawnita says.
While she may no longer be cooking surf and turf for her fellow Navy veterans aboard a military ship, she still enjoys whipping up a dessert or two.

“I have a lot of creative me
als still in and she has no plans of hanging up her chef's hat.”

Pamela lives in West Indianapolis and is no longer homeless.


Kappa Theta (Zionsville) Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Alpha (ESA) holds Drive for HVAF

Between November 7-December 19, 2014, Kappa Theta (Zionsville) Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Alpha (ESA) are encouraging members of the community to help make winter a little warmer for veterans at HVAF. It's all part of the Hope for Heroes Project. Hope for Heroes is coordinated by the Kappa Theta (Zionsville) Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Alpha (ESA). All donations received benefit veterans at HVAF.

Collection sites include:

Akard True-Value Hardware (Boone Village Shopping Center – Zionsville)
Hussey-Mayfield Public Library, 250 N. Fifth Street, Zionsville
Wooden Key Hallmark stores in:
Brownsburg (Marsh Plaza – 773 E. Main Street)
Carmel West (Weston Shoppes-106th Street & Michigan Road)
Lebanon (Village North Shopping Center – 2470 N. Lebanon Street)
Plainfield (Plainfield Commons – 2685 E. Main Street)
Zionsville (Boone Village Shopping Center – Zionsville)

Requested items:
All items should be new.
Men’s Winter Wear
Men’s Jeans (waist sizes 32-36”; length 34”)
Men’s Khaki pants (size 34-36)
Men’s Thermal Underwear
Men’s Underwear & Undershirts
Personal Care Items:
Toothbrushes & Paste
Shaving Supplies

All retail collection sites also have a collection can at the register for donations of monetary gifts.

Members of Kappa Theta (Zionsville) Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Alpha (ESA) drop off items at HVAF