Support special fundraiser on Veterans Day, 11-11-15

Help us raise funds for homeless veterans in Central Indiana during Operation Alpha 2015: A Benefit for HVAF at 4pm on Wednesday, November 11 (Veterans Day) hosted by Hotel Tango. More than 200 homeless veterans rely on HVAF’s supportive housing each month as well as an additional 500 veterans through services and programs as well as outreach efforts. Services provided to homeless veterans at HVAF include housing, employment services, transportation to and from appointments, food, clothes and hygiene items.

Order your ticket here:

Job fair at HVAF helps dozens of veterans

On November 1, HVAF hosted its 5th job fair. A total of 65 veteran job seekers and 17 employers were in attendance. Domino’s pizza donated 30 pizzas for the job fair. Several veterans received interviews and job offers. HVAF thanks this list of employers for their commitment in hiring veterans.

1. OHL
2. Spherion Staffing
3. Manpower
4. Domino’s
5. City of Indianapolis
6. State of Indiana
7. FedEx
8. Starbucks
9. Finish Line
10. G2 Secure Staff
11. G4s Secure Solutions
12. Camacho Janitorial
13. Home Depot
14. St. Frances Hospital
15. VA Hospital
16. Prologistix
17. CVS Distribution Center


Veteran Success Story

James Ballard
James Ballard grew up in upstate New York on his parents’ dairy farm surrounded by 25,000 apple trees and 5,000 hogs. His family raised chickens and sold the eggs to the local grocery store and markets in the area. After living on the farm for 10 years James was ready to escape small-town life. The U.S. Army was his ticket out and gave him a chance to see the country and what could be a better adventure he thought. He enlisted in the Army at 16. By the time his unit deployed to Korea in 1985he quickly became homesick after leaving his girlfriend behind

“I served at the height of the war on drugs,” says James. 

The Reagan and Bush administrations were calling for an escalation in fighting drugs. In fact, the 1980's was a remarkable decade in international events: the Cold War was coming to an end, and the U.S. military-industrial complex was facing spending cuts, with myriad economic ramifications. 

James served in the military for 3 years and once back at home he struggled to find work. 

“I felt like employers at the time were not receptive in hiring veterans and I felt like I did not have a lot to offer,” says James who was unemployed for several months before moving to New Jersey where he worked in construction building and remodeling homes from 1989-2010.

Then in 2010 he traveled to Indianapolis to take care of his ailing mother. After his mother passed, James was homeless. In March 2015, he learned about the services and programs at HVAF. He moved in to supportive housing at Warman Woods Apartments. There he met with employment specialists who helped him with resume and interviewing skills as well as encouraged him to attend a job fair hosted by HVAF. Within a month he was hired at FedEx. 

At FedEx he was nominated for ‘Employee of the Month’ and also won the annual safety slogan award after submitting the winning company slogan: Safety is simple as ABC: Always Be Careful.

“Safety is the most important thing with what I do and I am proud to be employed at FedEx. They gave me a nice winter jacket and they took my photo with the slogan in the background,” adds James.

In the winter months, James will be busy de-icing the fleet of FedEx airplanes. He remembers the life lessons he learned growing up as a kid on the dairy farm that has helped him in the military and later in life.

“Be responsible,” he says. “With all the work I had to do on the farm I always strived to be responsible. Leadership is another trait I gained at a young age. When I went into the military I was groomed to lead because I had once managed migrant workers as part of my responsibilities on the farm.

Volunteer spotlight – Jacob Collins gives back at HVAF

Jacob Collins
On an average morning Jacob Collins writes a paper, works on a biology lesson and emails family and friends. His afternoons are just as busy as he juggles classes and a volunteer internship at HVAF. Ask him why he does it and he’ll tell you that the veterans he has helped – and hopes to help – keep him going. Collins, a senior at Franklin College, is volunteering at HVAF twice a week for the semester sorting donations and doing whatever is most needed.
During Collins’ time as a student at the Franklin College, he realized that what meant the most to him was giving back.

“I had three uncles who served in the military as well as cousins. I remember looking at photos and hearing stories of my family members serving in the military,” says Jacob. “I have a greater appreciation and understanding of the sacrifices our veterans make and I’m really excited about helping out at HVAF,” Jacob says.

Although his internship is in the early stages, Jacob hopes to engage with the veterans during his time here. On stressful days, Jacob thinks about his family of “heroes” and the sacrifices they made for our freedoms today.

“A lot of times we, as students, don’t necessarily see the importance in believing in something greater than yourself and so the sacrifices made to make our country great should not be taken for granted,” adds Jacob.

Employee spotlight - Curtis Wiliamson

Each veteran who walks through the doors of the Residential, Employment, Substance Abuse Treatment program known as REST opens up to share a part of his past with Social Worker Curtis Williamson. Whether they have experienced bouts of joblessness, untreated illnesses, or addictionthey all have experienced chronic homelessness.

Curtis Williamson (left) with HVAF clients
With the support of Curtis and the REST program, these former soldiers are able to surmount challenges and re-enter the workforce after military service and/or find permanent housing.

At a recent recovery program graduation one man said he slept under a bridge until he got the help he needed. He got help at HVAF under Curtis’s guidanceThe veterans who tell their storiesof completing the program speak with clarity, pride and wisdom. They leave the program changed.

Curtis graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor’s in Social Work and went on to complete his Master’s in Social Work from IUPUI. In May 2013, he joined the staff at HVAF,working with REST Coordinator Fred Young in helping 22 veterans at a time who are in recovery.

“My grandfather was a homeless veteran – it was intermittent and he struggled for years so it’s very meaningful to do what I do,” says Curtis.

Curtis who is originally from Tennessee adds that HVAF’s 12-step recovery is a dedicated 6 months of working with a sponsor and ultimately completing 58 homework assignments. He says the intensive recovery program holds veterans accountable for their actions while supporting them.

“I enjoy connecting veterans with services that are available to them whether it is primaryor mental health care and if they are not eligible for insurance I help get them signed up and with those barriers eliminated we are able to focus on recovery,” says Curtis. “It’s a really good feeling to know that when a veteran calls you and tells you how they are doing and you hear the program has worked for them and they are now self-sufficient – you have made a difference. And we encourage veterans to find something that they are passionate about and re-focus energy.”

In his spare time Curtis enjoys walking his dog, a pit-bull mix, Mae, and reading or painting.