Friday night we will be honoring our fighting men and women at the Salute to our Veterans at Park Theater, the third annual event sponsored by McMinnville Noon Exchange Club and the city of McMinnville.
As district director for Exchange, it will be my honor to not only thank the many veterans in attendance for their service but also to tell the audience about something that is very near and dear to my heart – Veterans Matter – and how our local club is working to help fund the worthy cause.
What is Veterans Matter? I’m glad you asked. It’s a nonprofit organization started up in Ohio a few years ago by a man named Ken Lesley. After serving his country in the military, Ken fell on hard times and found himself homeless on the streets of Toledo. With hard work and a little luck, Ken was able to become a successful businessman. However, despite his success he didn’t forget his comrades on the streets so he began an organization to help house homeless veterans.
The thing he found was while there were federal programs to help pay rent for veterans, there was still the gap of actually getting them into the house or apartment since most places require first and last month’s rent and perhaps a deposit. This is what Veterans Matter does. Once a need is found, the application is sent to Veterans Matter. Once it is approved, the funds are sent electronically and the veteran is housed.
As of today, Veterans Matter has housed 1,800 veterans. However, that is only part of the story. Sometimes lost in the shuffle is the fact many of these veterans have spouses and children who are also homeless. By housing the veteran, you also house their family. So, during the same time, there have been 673 children of veterans housed as result of the program. And, the program has recently opened in Tennessee where we have housed 29 veterans (40 people in all counting their families) since March.
Duane, how do I help? I’m glad you asked. It’s quite simple actually. This Friday afternoon, before the big Veterans Day program at Park Theater, we will be at Topz selling our 2018 Veteran Calendar. It is made up of local veterans generously photographed by Miller Photography. The veterans will be on hand Friday to sign the months on the calendar on which they are featured. Last year’s event went great and the veterans enjoyed signing and speaking to folks. The calendars will also be available for purchase at the Veterans Matter table at Park Theater. The cost is just $15, money well spent that can help a lot of people. Sure, you likely will never meet the veteran you are helping house but by the same token, he or she would have never met you yet they were willing to lay down their lives to protect your freedom. It’s a case of pay it forward.
I hope to see you Friday night at Topz and then at the Park Theater. If you can’t make it, at least thank a veteran this week. Handshakes are free.
Standard reporter Duane Sherrill can be reached at 473-2191.