Former HVAF board member cycles to raise funds for homeless veterans

At age 68, Jack, a Vietnam veteran, has set a lofty fitness goal. Jack's goal is to break the cycle of homelessness and in doing so will push the limits of what some would consider a tough feat; an uphill battle. It is the pioneer, the leader, the maverick who stands up for an idea and goes after it regardless of whether the world considers it unrealistic.  

Jack has been training back in August 2014, in anticipation of RAGBRAI - the Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride across Iowa on July 19 where he will cycle 462 miles in 7 days. He has pledged 50 cents a mile donation for every RAGBRAI mile he rides to the charity of his choice, HVAF of Indiana. Jack is a former board member of HVAF of Indiana and has helped countless veterans in their road to recovery.

Support Jack in his journey to help v
eterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms in which we have today. Make a contribution that is meaningful to you. ---->

Jack training 

HVAF’s 22nd Annual Meeting

On June 18, board members, staff and clients attended HVAF’s 22nd Annual Meeting to recognize the achievements and advancements HVAF has made in improving the lives of the homeless veterans we serve. The meeting was held at the Indiana War Memorial. Three faith-based organizations were honored. Each group contributed to the success of HVAF.

Church 52 was honored. Whether it’s interacting with veterans through the annual picnic at the Moreau property or brainstorming other ways to help such as hosting a resume writing and basic computer skills workshop for the veterans, volunteers at Church 52 say their involvement won’t end when the group paints the last apartment at HVAF’s Moreau property. Read more on award recipient Church 52 here:

College Park Military Ministry also received volunteer recognition. For the last 20 years, College Park has served HVAF and its veterans. Read more about their contributions here:

Finally, Bethel United Methodist Church’s yearly commitment includes hosting a patriotic service for the community. Also, HVAF has been the recipient of a $1,000 check at each of these annual services, and all of that doesn't take into account the food drives and other volunteer opportunities that the Bethel United Methodist congregation also provides to HVAF. Read more here:

College Park Church Military Ministry

Bethel United Methodist Church

Garden helps homeless veteran feel a sense of community

Homeless veterans living at three separate HVAF properties have a new garden to help them heal, thanks to volunteers from Eli Lilly and Company and their Veterans Leadership Network (VLN). The gardens will serve as a place where veterans can get together.

Eli Lilly and Company and VLN volunteer at HVAF
Members of the veterans group first reached out to HVAF in January to learn about volunteer opportunities. Twenty-five people came out on June 4, and volunteered at HVAF’s Warman and Moreau properties as well as at HVAF headquarters. The groups planted vegetables, fruit, and flowers as well as cleaned common areas. Most importantly, they spent time learning about some of the veterans that occupy the space. 

Veterans typically stay in HVAF’s housing properties for up to two years. It’s a supportive place for veterans who go from being homeless to eventually living in a place of their own.

“I think a lot of us tend to isolate and feel alone,” says Roger D., 31, who entered HVAF’s recovery program in March.  “I’m going to watch the flowers grow as I continue to grow and better myself in HVAF’s recovery program,” he said.

Roger checks on the flowers daily and waters them on days it does not rain. He believes the garden will help create a sense of community as veterans’ transition home.

“Listening to their stories made it all worthwhile,” says Heather Willhite, Sr. Executive Assistant, Lilly Market Research and Customer Experience. “We like to do whatever we can do to help our veterans and our community and we hope that the plants yield plenty to keep them full all summer long and they enjoy the space that we were able to create for them,” adds Heather.

“If it wasn’t for this group volunteering and bringing in supplies, we would not have had the resources to do this ourselves,” says Executive Vice President of Operations Ron Shelley.

In all, 95 veterans will enjoy the new and creative space. 

Veterans to rejoice on past accomplishments during Recovery Day

On Saturday, September 19, veterans at HVAF will share their accomplishments in recovery. Last year, Tyrone F., a veteran who once relied on HVAF services, talked to veterans about his own journey and says his life once spiraled out of control. In 2013 the 51-year-old U.S. Army Reserve veteran turned to HVAF for supportive housing. At HVAF, Tyrone also received counseling and had access to a computer lab which helped prepare him for his job search.

“For decades I allowed my lifestyle of drugs and alcohol to create a feeling of emptiness,” says Tyrone. “I realized I needed help and so I entered HVAF’s Residential Employment Substance Abuse Treatment (REST) program.”

Tyrone is now an alumni and graduate of the program and shared his story during HVAF’s 10th annual Recovery Day. Tyrone says he is continuing on his spiritual journey of recovery. 

Each September, in support of National Recovery Month, HVAF holds an event to reflect on the recovery efforts of individuals, families and communities affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs. On September 19, veterans like Tyrone spoke about experiences, challenges, mentors, and successes. It allowed others to share their struggles and lets them know there is hope – and a better way to live. Encouragement is offered by everyone in the room and many veterans bring their AA sponsors for extra support.

Musician, once homeless, has new home

Before Greg, 59, enlisted in the U.S. Army, he had aspirations to travel the world and to make a steady living as a pianist. Today, Greg is still playing the piano. But, his travels took him down a different path back.

Greg playing keyboard at Moreau Apartments
Somewhere along the way, Greg says he fell through the cracks. His job ended abruptly at the music shop and his living arrangements deteriorated. He was unable to hold down a job. In 2014, he ended up homeless.

From being on the street, going to shelters I have come a long way and I don’t take anything for granted. Because I love people. I play for people.”

In March 2015, Greg settled in to his new room at Moreau Apartments – one of 15 transitional housing facilities offered through HVAF. He worked with Case Manager, Isaiah Tworek. Not only is HVAF offering him a new start, it is also offering him new keys to create music with.

“I like to inspire people who are still struggling like I was and fellow veterans can hear me play music as they walk down the halls each day,” said Greg, who plays the keyboard at Moreau.

And if there's one group of people that Greg cares about, it's homeless, out-of-work veterans, including those with drug- and alcohol-abuse problems or post-traumatic stress disorder.

 “While the military structures one’s life,” says Greg, “it is after military, with no structure, the cracks can prove destabilizing during the important readjustment period.” Instead of reaching out, retired military tend to ignore symptoms and self-medicate with alcohol and/or drugs. I turned to alcohol. I couldn't sustain employment. I couldn't pay rent or pay for groceries. It all just kind of fell apart, and then I was homeless,” adds Greg.

“With so many barriers before him, Greg strives on a daily basis to secure employment. He never gives up or gets discouraged and he presents himself with a positive attitude as he attempts each early morning to tackle the world. He has had two months of sobriety and is completely proud of his work, as are we,” says Isaiah.

“I’m not used to this. Once in a while, when I’m in my room, I’ll think "do I really deserve this?”

Greg worked as a piano technician for 30 years and could spend hours listening to classical music, especially Ludwig van Beethoven.

He recently attended a job readiness workshop for veterans and after completion received a congressional honor given by Congressman Andre Carson, and a special thank you award was given by Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly.
Now that he is employed with G2 Secure Staff he has discovered through his recovery that “everyone needs help” and that “the biggest thing people need to know” - especially if they’re dealing with a veteran who is just returning home from war is “don’t turn your back on them; help them.”

Greg still plays the piano and still listens to Beethoven and says music is a calming force in his life.

Note: Greg is also a skilled carpenter. In the 1970’s he joined his father to renovate rental properties across Indianapolis. His work included the installation of the wine rack at O'Malia's (now Marsh) grocery store.



HVAF veterans perform at Bethel United Methodist Church

Eight veterans and three staff members atook to the stage as part in a musical performance for the Bethel United Methodist Church on Sunday, May 17. The annual program dedicated to veterans was introduced by HVAF Founding Board Member Louise Loyd.

AJ who performed as vocalist and on the keyboard says the past 12 months have blurred together. He has gone from living in a homeless shelter to receiving housing through HVAF to once again booking jobs to play at clubs. He mostly enjoys performing at churches and says his performance was meaningful because he felt appreciated by church members.

“It was a great, yet humbling experience to be able to present and share a special day with people who support and encourage our success as recovering veterans, said AJ. “It was an honor to be able to give back in a small, but significant way to wonderful people.”


HVAF receives grant from Million Dollar Round Table Foundation

The Million Dollar Round Table Foundation (MDRT) has awarded a $5,000 grant to HVAF to provide food for homeless veterans in the Residential, Employment, Substance Abuse Treatment (REST) program as well as funding for transportation for veterans to attend critical appointments.

Through its global grants, the MDRT Foundation is committed to building stronger families and communities around the globe. This year, the MDRT Foundation will award nearly $1 million in MDRT member-endorsed grants to more than 100 charitable organizations worldwide.

“This grant will provide much-needed resources to help American’s heroes return to self-sufficiency,” said HVAF President & CEO, Dr. Charles Haenlein. “I want to thank the MDRT Foundation for restoring hope for veterans enrolled in our supportive housing program.”

Job Fair Attracts More than 100 veterans, 20 Employers

On May 7, a job fair at HVAF connected veterans, service members, and military spouses with employers who are actively hiring. Twenty employers were on hand, including Lowe’s, UPS, and Eskenazi Health. One hundred and three veterans attended the fair in which six veterans were hired on the spot and many others left with interviews scheduled.

“In this day and age, most job applications are submitted online," says HVAF Employment Specialist Chasiti Herring. "The job fair helped veteran job seekers connect and network with employers on a face-to-face basis, which enabled them to create a great first impression and secure interviews. The Employment department truly appreciates all of the employers that partner with HVAF to actively recruit veterans.”

U.S. Army veteran Rick W. says the fair allowed him to get his foot in the door and to learn about opportunities he may otherwise not know about. At his lowest point, Rick was living out of his van; he lugged around a sleeping bag and had only one change of clothes and he did not know where his next meal would come from.

In 2013, Rick turned to HVAF of Indiana for housing and now that he has a roof over his head he is able to focus on finding a job. HVAF has also assisted Rick with resume preparation. 

HVAF Kitchen Renovation

On May 13, twenty-five volunteers and eight businesses joined together to renovate the kitchen at HVAF’s headquarters that is used by veterans daily. This was the first major renovation project for the kitchen since HVAF acquired the building in 2008. The group painted walls and doors, cleaned, hung ceiling tiles and fans, and organized the space. 

HVAF volunteer Miranda Morris an eight-year-veteran of the US. Army Reserves, first learned of HVAF in 2012 while volunteering for an event on IUPUI’s campus with the Veterans of IUPUI. She suggested to a family member who works at Keller Williams Realty the idea of taking on the kitchen renovation project because it aligned with the company’s annual Red Day projects. The project planning process began in February 2014.

“After attending several events within HVAF’s dining facility, there was a visible need for maintenance to enhance the efficiency,” says Miranda.  “The dining facility is the heart of HVAF. Residents break bread together, enjoy the company of others, and attend impactful programs. Those who volunteer to serve our veterans also spend a great deal of time within the heart of HVAF, providing dinners and programs for the veterans. The dining facility is also the welcoming space to the families of HVAF vets.”

“We were very excited to support HVAF,” Julie Downey of Keller Williams Realty. “The mission of KW Carmel Cares as well as The Realtor Foundation is to do what we can to end homelessness in Indianapolis and surrounding areas, and support empowering the homeless to get back on their feet and into the community. HVAF is directly in line with that. When presented with the opportunity to support, we were excited to be able to do so.”

Keller Williams reached out to Matt Troyer from Emergent Investments to see if they were willing to donate their time and skills toward this project as well, which they were happy to do. Emergent helped create the supply list necessary and then on Wednesday before Red Day they trimmed and hung new closet doors, and installed base and wall cabinets.

“Our job is not finished there, and we look forward to assisting in any way we can in the future.”

With all the help from those who donated funds, materials, and their time, HVAF has a brand new space for residents, their families, employees, and volunteers to enjoy.

The list of project contributors include:

Keller-Williams Realty Carmel Indiana
Keller-Williams Carmel Cares - money to do the work
Emergent Investments - did all the work on Wednesday installing cabinets
The Legion 360 for $1500 towards supplies for work (given to them by another Indiana Legion)
The Keller-Williams Red Day Team who was there on Thursday doing the work
Sue Fusek donated the hardware for the cabinets from their hardware store that is downtown. Fusek's True Value Hardware.
Waterstone Mortgage donated the box lunches for the volunteers and residents. 
Mike Lyons and Bob Sargent did the running to pick up materials 
Mike Seigel donated a can rack which was arranged by Cindy Cherf.

Veteran reaches out to HVAF for job services

As a veteran of the U.S. Army, Michael S., 47, understands what it means to work hard. But as so many people do, he found himself out of work. In February 2014, he turned to HVAF for housing. Once he had a roof over his head, his next goal was finding a job but finding employers who would take someone that didn’t have recent work experience, let alone any relevant work experience, was a difficult obstacle to overcome. 

In Indiana, the unemployment rate for veterans in 2013 was 6.7% and the post 9/11 veterans’ unemployment rate is 16.9% according to the Bureau Department of Labor.

Michael’s Case Manager, Jerrika Pence, referred him to HVAF’s employment services where Employment Coordinator, Chasiti Herring, updated his resume and looked for jobs which fit his skill set. In January, he was hired on to work full-time as a 2nd shift forklift operator.

Now, Chasiti is working with Michael again to help him to secure a full-time first shift position. 

“Michael has over 10 years of experience working as a certified CNC Machine Operator and as we do with all our veterans, we are looking for the right opportunity for Michael that is tailored to his unique skill set,” says Chasiti.

HVAF has helped give me more confidence to face the job market and a chance to achieve what I want most which is my own apartment,” says Michael. "The people at HVAF have the compassion and knowledge to help veterans. Without HVAF, I may not have been given this incredible life-altering opportunity."

"Finding work is an important part of building back confidence and pride and sustaining independence," says Michael’s Case Manager, Jerrika Pence. 

Michael continues to have a positive outlook and is thankful to join the number of veterans served at HVAF through its employment services.

In 2014, 140 veterans met with an Employment Specialist at HVAF and 72% of clients successfully obtained employment with the assistance of HVAF’s employment services.