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.