HVAF Outreach Coordinator reaches veterans in need

This month, we’re highlighting the work of outreach coordinator, Rodney Jackson. Rodney first heard of HVAF through a volunteer coordinator, and has worked with HVAF for two years. He spends his days delivering essentials like hygiene products, as well as food and water to homeless veterans in the community. Jackson builds a rapport with the people he meets and provides information about the programs and services HVAF provides to homeless veterans.

Jackson served in the Navy for 20 years, and now gives back to his fellow brothers and sisters who also served this country. He wants these homeless veterans to know that there are people who care about them, and that there are resources available if they want them. “The way I look at it, I’m just giving back to my family members,” said Jackson.

Volunteer spotlight

Keith C. is a former client of HVAF who now volunteers here. He served our country from 1985 – 1995 and struggled with drug addiction after completing his service in 1995. He first heard of HVAF from an outreach coordinator at one of the homeless shelters he resided in. Thanks to HVAF’s residential, employment, substance abuse treatment (REST) program, Keith was able to sober up and turn his life around.

Keith is going seven years strong in sobriety. “Without the REST program, I would probably be dead,” said Keith. As a thank you to HVAF for helping him regain control of his life, he now volunteers and helps others. 

“I have a passion for my brother veterans and this program,” said Keith. “They [HVAF] helped me know it was OK to open up and talk to people.”

Keith volunteers once or twice a week filling the clothing orders that veterans request. When asked why he volunteers he said, “It gives me a sense of purpose.” We at HVAF are proud of Keith's recovery/sobriety, and find his passion for helping other veterans inspiring.

Legal help goes a long way for veterans at HVAF

Matt Gaudin is our legal go-to guy here at HVAF, and will be celebrating his one year anniversary with us this September. He helps veterans maneuver the legal system and has been able to get their driver’s license back, expunge old criminal records and has provided fresh financial starts.

“I enjoy being able to serve our veterans who have sacrificed immensely for our country,” said Gaudin.

He has family ties to the military that inspired him to give back to veterans. His grandfather was in the Army Air Corps during WWII in the European Theatre, where he received a distinguished medal for his services. “I’m very proud of his service,” said Gaudin.

One of Gaudin’s current clients, Schon Perkins, has expressed extreme gratitude for his services. “I don’t often praise people, but Matt is seriously one of the nicest guys,” said Perkins. “His phone line is always open.”

Gaudin has helped Perkins expunge two things from his record, and is now coaching him through the filing process of bankruptcy. “I wouldn’t have gotten anything done without Matt,” said Perkins. “I call him all the time and he’s always willing to help.” These connections and the impact he makes in others’ lives are what keeps him coming back each day. 

Veteran receives employment assistance at HVAF

Eddie planned to go to college and play football after high school, but a combination of things quickly changed his mind. Edde instead joined the Marine Corps and served from 1982 – 1985 as a Marine Guard in Concord, CA. Several members of Eddie's family has served in the military, and when his best friend from high school told him he was joining the Marines, Eddie decided to meet with a recruiter. The recruiter won him over, and the rest is history. 

Eddie has always been very family oriented, and one of his favorite things about serving was the bonding he experienced. The men and women he served with became an extension of his family. “I really enjoy being able to protect my country,” said Eddie. “Which also means protecting my family.” 

When he finished his service, he stayed in California for some time and worked as a security guard. Eddie then moved back to Indiana, and received warehouse and factory jobs for several years. He says he got into some trouble with the law and served time in jail. Upon Eddie's release, he experienced difficulties finding work. “People are hesitant to hire those who have been in and out of jail,” adds Eddie. 

Without work, Eddie eventually lost everything. He was sleeping in his car that no longer worked and needed repairs, and found himself in one of the shelters downtown. Eddie first heard of HVAF in 2013 through a friend. He entered HVAF’s transitional housing program 
and called the Donald W. Moreau, Sr. Veterans House home where he lived for over a year. 

While in transitional housing, Eddie met HVAF’s Employment Coordinator, Kevin Hillman. Eddie had previous work experience in the kitchen of a couple restaurants. He’s held every position in the kitchen from dishwasher to manager. Kevin knew of an opportunity at Scotty’s Brewhouse in downtown Indianapolis and contacted the General Manager. Within 15 minutes, Kevin received a response asking Eddie to come in for an interview. Eddie was hired on the spot, and started work the following day.

When asked where he would be without HVAF’s assistance Eddie said, “Homeless and still looking for a job at the same time.” He continued to say, “You guys have really helped me get back on my feet. I’m glad I found HVAF. Honestly, I wish I found it sooner.” 


Students give back at HVAF

This month, HVAF and Group Mission Trips partnered together to further help Hoosier Veterans. Group Mission Trips (GMT) is a nonprofit faith-based organization that offers service experiences that further build a person’s relationship with a higher faith. For four days, a group of 25 teenagers from Clemmons, North Carolina gave back to HVAF and its veterans.

One volunteer, Victoria Lopez, was very excited to be part of this mission trip. Not only was this her first travel mission trip, but it also fell on her 17th birthday. “Everyone in my group was super excited to be assigned HVAF,” said Lopez. “Because we all know a veteran in some way, and wanted to give back to them.”

Lopez’s grandpa served in Vietnam, and her step-father assisted with clean up after Pearl Harbor. When asked why volunteering is important to her, Lopez said, “It sets an example to others of how we should be, and to show your community that you care without getting anything in return.”

Her favorite experience at the time of the interview, was cleaning up the kitchen in one of HVAF’s transitional houses. “It’s exciting knowing that veterans have a fresh and updated space to use now,” said Lopez. We at HVAF of Indiana are grateful for people like Lopez and organizations like GMT. Their dedication and passion are great reminders of how we can always help others.