New picnic tables installed at housing property

Employees at Rolls Royce of Indianapolis installed picnic tables for homeless veterans at HVAF. With its outdoor bench seating, veterans at HVAF’s Warman property have a comfortable place to convene when outside.

“Giving back and assisting was just a Christian thing to do,” says Kevin Bereman who along with thirteen of his colleagues rolled up their sleeves in an effort to give back. Kevin was introduced to the work we do by a colleague who had headed up other events to benefit HVAF. Volunteering is steeped in his family values. Kevin’s son spent 4 years in JROTC before joining the Army. After his wife passed, he has been there for his son in showing support and encouragement along with his two other children.

Rolls-Royce at HVAF
In order to provide the picnic tables to HVAF, Kevin’s department held a fundraising event to collect money. They discovered monies could go farther if they bought table kits and installed them instead of hiring someone to do the work. During the process of fundraising, they surpassed their monetary goal, and instead of buying and assembling picnic table kits, they upgraded to weather-proofing materials. Additionally, the group purchased boxes of cleaning supplies for each of the homes at Warman. Afterward, Rolls-Royce employees brought in pizza to share with the veterans to thank them for their service.

“It was a good bonding time to see their needs and we being blessed with abilities, seeing what more we can do to help,” adds Kevin.

Homeless for three years, veteran qualifies for benefits with help of HVAF

At 71, West Virginia veteran Clarence B. has experienced more than his fair share of ups and downs since he left the Marines Corps. That he survived, and is now thriving, is testament to his tenacity. It’s also a tribute to a determined network of community supporters who refused to quit on Clarence.
In the 1970’s and 80’s while he was working on the railroads as a yard conductor he began drinking heavily and using drugs. Clarence’s life journey took a downturn as result of the people he associated with. That lifestyle stayed with him for two decades.

He then spent three years in construction before being incarcerated for nine months. He then went into trucking where he worked until diabetes prevented him from being able to work.

Clarence at HVAF
After his health declined and he lost his job, Clarence moved to Indianapolis in 2002. He found various roofs over his head by staying at the missions, a situation that lasted two to three years.

In 2014 Kevin’s house went into foreclosure at which time he came to HVAF. He was at Carson Apartments for 18 months. He met with an HVAF Case Manager who helped him.

In October, Clarence moved into his own apartment. He was able to double his income by obtaining veterans’ benefits and social security while at HVAF.  He remains clean and sober.

“I didn’t have my head together back then,” Clarence said. “Keep your head up and have people around you to give support.”

New employment opportunity provides hope

Veteran Michael S. had no idea what life would look like after transitioning out of a career in the military. He knew he had a place in the civilian world, but after serving in a variety of roles in the Army, it wasn’t immediately clear where that place was.
In February 2015, he learned about HVAF and moved into the Manchester Apartments where he stayed for 17 months, building his resume and leaning on employment specialists for guidance.

Following an exhaustive job search in Indianapolis, Michael gave up hope of finding “his dream” job and took menial jobs that offered little opportunity for promotion. In 2012, he lost his job and experienced homelessness for 2 weeks. The combination of leaving the military and an inability to find a job in his field took a toll on Michael’s self-confidence.

“I had no idea how difficult a job search for a job with benefits and stability would be,” Michael recalled. “I thought my military experience and the fact that I had an associate’s degree would be helpful. Speaking as a veteran, we have a strong work ethic and a sense of pride about our work,” Michael said.

Since August, HVAF has assisted 28 veterans in gaining employment. Michael is just one of these veteran we served.

“Michael has been diligent in working towards gaining employment with PepsiCo, says Kiara Walker, MSW, LSW, Employment Specialist. “Michael is the Veteran who inspires you to work just as hard as he does. He has made it to every appointment and has excellent punctuality. The desire he shows to want more for himself is an admirable quality. Michael gives me hope about his job prospects, and I believe he will get the job he is wanting.”

While Michael is currently employed, he received a phone call and an email from HVAF employment specialist Kiara Walker about an opportunity at PepsiCo last month.

“HVAF provided a welcome relief on so many levels. Most of all, they helped me regain my sense of pride.”

Michael is now living in his own apartment is going through the hiring process at PepsiCo.

For one homeless veteran, life’s ups begin to outweigh the downs

Kevin C. was on the brink of becoming chronically homeless. In April 2016, he came to HVAF for help. Born and raised on the near east side of Indianapolis, he joined the U.S. Army in 1979 at the age of 18, and he served for seven years in global security. 

After Kevin’s service, he took a job in Kentucky working in local parks and recreations. He ended up losing this job in 2001.
Kevin at HVAF property

That’s when he says his struggles with homelessness began.

When Kevin heard about the resources offered in Indianapolis for homeless veterans, he moved back home. He also had local support from family and friends. However, he felt like he placed a burden on family or friends. He sank into depression. In March 2016, Kevin slept near a dumpster and lit a candle for heat. He also slept in shelters and park benches.

During that period of homelessness, Kevin’s health began to suffer. He was no longer able to continue work. He developed blood clots in his leg and suffered from diabetic neuropathy in his feet.

In April 2016, he heard about HVAF and met with a Case Manager who provided him the stability he needed by providing a roof over his head.

“HVAF has provided me a roof over my head and they’ve given me the opportunity to have a semblance of a home that I can utilize and I was provided bus passes. Just having an address is a big step in my progress.”

Kevin is ready to move on to permanent housing and is waiting to hear from several landlords on availability. 

Students volunteer at HVAF

Students from IUPUI and Ivy Tech joined forces to paint the women’s clothing pantry at HVAF. The fresh coat of paint brightens up the room which is used to store, sort, and distribute clothing. Ten percent of the veterans HVAF serves are women.

On any given night in the United States, nearly 40,000 veterans are homeless. That's according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. A 2014 study from Disabled American Veterans found that eight percent of those homeless veterans are women.

Students from IUPUI
Volunteers worked all day in the women’s clothing pantry which is bustling during HVAF’s outreach hours held every Tuesday and Thursday from 12:30-3:30pm. During outreach voluntees help fill orders of clothing requests from the veterans.  


American Legion Post 331 Halloween benefit for HVAF

On October 29, American Legion Post 331 will host a Halloween Party to benefit HVAF. View details here: