Fundraiser update - Crossing Iowa for a cause

Jack Wickes raised $3,700 for HVAF through his fundraising efforts while participating in RAGBRAI -  the Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride. On July 19, he completed 7 days of cycling more than 462 miles across the state of Iowa. He started training in April and set out to achieve a fitness goal as well as raise awareness and funds for HVAF programs and services. To further the efforts to help homeless veterans, Wickes dedicated 50 cents for every RAGRAI mile to HVAF.

With the support and encouragement of friends new and old, Wickes created awareness of the issue of homelessness among veterans across the state. He says his military service as a sergeant in Vietnam gave him a deeper understanding and appreciation for others who have served.

“We appreciate those who have served our country, but there are those that really need our help,” says Jack. “In addition to their service, they just need to get back on their feet. This is about helping those vets that are down. They served our country and this is our way of giving back to them.”

During his time on the road, Wickes sent in photos about his experiences: the things he saw, the emotions he felt and the challenges he faced.

Additionally, Jack’s story garnered both national and local news coverage on, NPR, WQAD in the Quad Cities area of West-Central Illinois and Eastern Iowa, FOX59, CBS4 and RTV6.

Volunteer Spotlight

Boxes filled with canned meat, vegetables, pasta, hygiene items and clothing were a welcomed sight. In August, Phyllis Cooper, Service for Veterans Liaison for went into action when she heard that HVAF’s food pantry was desperately low in August. Phyllis was introduced to HVAF four years ago. Her husband, Archie, served 30 years in U.S. Army from 1957-63 and then joined the Army National Guard in 1976. Archie retired in 2000. His support system was strong and says his return home to the life he left was a smooth one but the Cooper’s understand how difficult it can be for returning veterans and that motivates them to help veterans who rely on HVAF.

“Whether a veteran has been in combat or not, the fact that they joined the military means that they are willing to serve and protect our country and I have the highest honor, admiration and respect for all who serve.”

Phyllis’ church members at Family of God rallied behind her and collected canned food items. Additionally, The Cooper’s daughter, Michelle, her husband, and three grandsons are doing what they can to also help raise awareness for projects that are dear to their heart. Items donated by the Cooper’s filled the once empty food and hygiene pantry shelves for homeless and near homeless veterans and are handed out during outreach each Tuesday and Thursday.

Your donation goes a long way. View HVAF’s wish list here and find out how you can make a meaningful contribution. 

Phyllis Cooper at HVAF

HVAF Staff Spotlight

Jerrika Pence of HVAF with client 
Jerrika Pence, 26, says her passion for helping people began at an early age. As a child she would tutor younger kids in school. Her love of helping others continued to flourish and it was only natural for her to pursue a career in social work. While working towards her undergraduate degree, Jerrika joined the team of the 2-1-1 Call Center in Indianapolis informing people of local resources and in finding human services answers. In 2011, she graduated from Indiana University where she received her Bachelor’s in Social Work. In the spring of 2014, she began interning at HVAF.

“The internship position was of great interest to me because I felt like I could use everything I have learned and make a difference in the lives of homeless veterans,” says Jerrika. “I enjoy interacting and learning about their past with the goal of improving their future.”

At HVAF, she is assigned 17 clients and each one has varied needs. Some are ready to re-enter the workforce while others are getting assistance with obtaining personal identifications including birth certificates.

Jerrika is originally from Indianapolis and has three sisters. She enjoys spending time with her fiancĂ©e, picking up a good inspirational book, shopping and relaxing. In December 2015, Jerrika will graduate from IUPUI with a Master’s Degree in Social Work.

Fletcher Place veteran owned business to hold fundraiser for HVAF

Join us this Veterans Day, 11/11, at Hotel Tango for Operation Alpha 2015 A Benefit for HVAF. Your ticket purchase of $35 includes one specialty drink, a light meal, music and good conversation with friends while supporting HVAF’s work in returning homeless veterans to self-sufficiency. 

Order tickets here:

Hotel Tango is the first disabled veteran owned artisan distillery in the U.S. HVAF's mission is to provide housing and reintegration services to veterans experiencing homelessness and administer programs and services to prevent at-risk veterans from becoming homeless.

Jason's Story

Army veteran Jason K. has held a lot of jobs in his life – oil technician, construction worker, pipeline inspector and security. But the 26-year-old father of two said he "was tired of living paycheck to paycheck."

Jason at HVAF
“It’s just good to finally have help,” says Jason. For years he faced uncertainty of finding stable work. He then traveled in 2014 to work on the oil fields but the price of oil crashed and he began working as a gas station attendant. It was during those times that he relied on skills developed in the military: perseverance and patience to get him through tough times and bouts of loneliness. In March 2015, he turned to HVAF for help with employment.

“I sort of put all my eggs in one basket. Once my wife told me about HVAF I drove up to Indy to find work and called HVAF and it paid off,” says Jason.

HVAF helped him get familiar with some of the resources and organizations in Indy to help him and his family who were still living out-of-state. His main goal was employment. Employment Specialist, Robin Close, looked for a veteran-friendly company with a quick hiring process. Allied Barton streamlines the job interview and gets their employees hired quickly and with full uniforms, so Robin told him if he applied online she would send a note to the HR Manager, recommending him for the job.  He applied for the job using HVAF’s computer lab and ultimately landed the interview and got the job. He was working within a few days of coming to HVAF.

“This is a common trend where some of the younger Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) veterans don’t have the same job waiting on them when they come home, so they’re possibly staying with someone and job searching at the same time, and sometimes even in a new town or city,” says Robin. “Where it gets difficult is if the home doesn’t have an extra computer and/or internet; they can’t search for resources or jobs.”

That’s when our computer lab here at HVAF has come in handy.  Any job-seeking veteran can use our computers during office hours to apply for jobs online. HVAF has several community partners who want to hire veterans. Still, companies require that everyone apply online.

Distance no longer stands between Jason and his family and he no longer worries when his next paycheck will be.

“If it had not been for HVAF’s help there is no telling where I would be. I am very grateful for HVAF’s programs and services for veterans.”

More about HVAF’s Employment Services
HVAF has three designated employment specialists who help veterans overcome barriers to regular employment. The emphasis on helping homeless veterans secure employment is enhanced coordination with various veterans' service programs. Since hiring additional staff in this department, HVAF has tripled its reach from 2013 and now plans to serve 300 veterans through the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust. It provides grants to nonprofit organizations that focus on providing education and/or training for individuals to obtain gainful employment.

More information about HVAF’s programs and services is available at


Motorcycle ride to benefit HVAF

Support the Mooresville Eagles Aries 3988, VFW Post 1111, American Legion Post 103 who will be raising money and non-perishable items for our homeless veterans. Call 317-831-5023 to register.

Riders $15 Passengers $5

Ride details:
Breakfast will be served at the Eagles for $4 from 10 to 11am.
Registration will be from 10 to 11 AM and kickstands up at 11am. Raffles will be done during the ride and after the ride at the Mooresville Eagles.

The ride will start and end at the:
Mooresville Eagles
451 N Old State Road
Mooresville, Ind. 46158