Here are some facts on women in the military and women veterans:
… Reminded all runners out there (and donors!) that The Mercy Health Glass City Marathon is just around the corner. There are fundraisers to fund and races to run! Check out where you can do both here.
… Wished an all around great guy – and even greater veteran advocate – Gary Sinise a very Happy Birthday on March 17th. A day which we hope all you Irish and Irish at heart celebrated with plenty of green cheer (responsibly, course)!
… Were honored by Mitch Albom’s SAYDetoit generous donation to Veterans Matter’s Operation Michigan. You can read more on that here.
… Gave head up to all golf lovers, and Veterans Matter supporters, that the Marathon Classic LPGA Tournament will be Ohio this summer and all ticket proceeds (when designated at time of purchase) will go to a charity of your choice (hint, Veterans Matter, hint). Purchase yours at a local Kroger today!
If you wondered why a best-selling author, playwright, radio and television broadcaster, and musician would spend at least a third of his waking hours – and millions of dollars of cash, time, and energy to serve others here and abroad, you need to go no further than this:
Since Mitch and Chad funded the start up of Operation Michigan in 2014, they were joined with funds raised by Katy Perry, Kid Rock, Michigan Exchange Clubs, and an incredible Michigan company, First Nation Group/Jordan Reses. All together these funds have now housed 267 Michigan Veterans.
… Started sales of Disco tickets – and SOLD OUT of Gold Tables in 16 minutes! There are still Silver Tables available and General Admission goes on sale April 15th! This is going to be an event to remember – so make sure you are a part of this groovy cause to help house homeless veterans!
… Became a Charity Partner for the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon. The race is April 23rd – sign up here and become a fundraiser for Veterans Matter!
… Announced the Color for Camo Walk/Run happening May 13th! Veterans Matter is the beneficiary for this Fun Run! Come out and let’s get colorful! Sign up Here.
We are excited to tell you that you have helped housed nearly 1,400 homeless in 14 states. However, our veterans served this country and are still on the streets and in cars or shelters – it is our turn, as a country, to serve them. Get involved today!
What? The 2nd Annual Denny Schaffer Summer Disco Party to benefit Veterans Matter!
When? June 23rd 8:00PM-12:00AM
Where? Hensville Park
Why? To help house even more homeless veterans. And so you can pull that polyester suit out of storage, of course!
Table tickets are on sale today – March 1st, at 9:00AM! Just visit www.veteransmatter.org/disco for more information and availability.
If you are from out of town – or just want to “take the elevator home,” – stay at the Park Inn for the night! Tell them “Disco” for a reduced party price.
General Admission Tickets will go on sale April 15th.
Shelly and David Miller of Miller Photography are a husband and wife team from McMinnville, Tennessee who shot the National Exchange Club’s 2017 Veterans Calendar. Both are experienced photographers; Shelly has 18 years under her belt and David has 27 years.
Not only are they gifted photographers, they are also avid supporters of the military community.
“Veterans seem to be an under-served group in our country. We wanted to bring the stories of our local veterans to our community while raising money for Veterans Matter,” David said.
Thank you Shelly and David for joining the Veterans Matter team and advocating on behalf of homeless veterans and their families, we appreciate you!
… wished one of our generous celebrity advocates, Kid Rock, a very happy birthday!
… received a donation of $7,500 from the Northwest Ohio Mortgage Bankers Association.
… started alerting those that live in our hometown of Toledo, OH that the Marathon Classic LPGA will be happening this summer and tickets are on sale now at area Krogers! 100% of ticket prices will
go to a designated charity – of which Veterans Matter is one! Tickets available online as well.
… continued to celebrate our 1300+ veterans housed. Our newest operation,Operation Oregon, is up to 4 veterans housed. Operation Washington just hit 50 yesterday!
… wished supporter and homeless vet advocate, John Rich, of Big & Rich a very Happy Birthday!
… awarded the 2016 Veterans Matter Advocate of the Year to Jeff Young. Read more here.
… thanked Exchange Club of Houston for their generous donation and fundraising efforts of $5,500.
… encouraged our friends to learn more by signing up for Advocate Updates.
Veterans Matter proudly announces the 2016 “Advocate of the Year” award is presented to Jeffry Young. He is being honored for his tireless efforts in support of Veterans Matter’s mission to house homeless veterans and veterans’ families with children in his community, state and nation. Mr. Young, a veteran himself, is a National Exchange Club of Lawrence, Indiana member and Region 7 National Exchange Regional Vice President. Drafted into the US Army a month after graduating from college, Jeff proudly served in the Georgia National Guard as a combat medic during the Viet Nam era.
Ken Leslie, Advocate-In-Chief of Veterans Matter stated, “Jeff Young’s passion and hard work for housing homeless veterans and their families is incomparable. Jeff is a true advocate for our nation’s heroes. His work with the National Exchange Club/Veterans Matter partnership is unparalleled. We are honored to have Jeffry Young as the first recipient of the “Advocate of the Year” award.”
Referring to the National Exchange Club/Veterans Matter partnership, Mr. Young said, “Almost every person in America knows or has a family member who has served this country. I see the need to let them know that 39,000 Veterans are still homeless! Veterans Matter is an opportunity to share the plight of our homeless veterans through Exchange Clubs nationwide and to work with those members of our community who want to help our veterans!”
… ended 2016 with a very Merry Christmas for a veteran and his family. The holidays, and winter in general, can be one of the more urgent times of the year for us to house veterans. The community really came together for this veteran and his family. Read the story here.
… rang in the New Year! Happy 2017 to all of our advocates!
… shared the presentation of a Veterans Matter Honor Bond to Financial Center Sr. VP, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Daniel Kavanaugh by National Exchange Club Regional VP Jeff Young. Thank you Financial Center for your sponsorship and support!
… opened up Operation Oregon with an anonymous donation of $25,000!! Three veterans have been housed to date.
… gave our Twitter followers ideas to #BeTheirAdvocate.
… now have housed 1,300 veterans!!
… encouraged our advocates to take advantage of the donation matching by Jordan Reses Supply Co. Every dollar you donate will be doubled to help house homeless veterans. That offer still stands, double your kindness here.
… started following Veterans Matter’s very own Veronica Mora on the multi-state convoy
with Wreaths Across America to place wreaths on the graves at Arlington National
Cemetery. You can read more on this blog.
… went to lunch at Sunset Bistro in Bowling Green, OH to support Veterans Matter. What a remarkable restaurant with so much heart! If you’re ever in Bowling Green – look them up! I hear their Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich is awesome!
… wished the National Guard a Happy 380th Birthday. Yeah. That’s a long time to be around. Thank you National Guard for your service!
… successfully housed 10 more veterans this week, see which Operations are making sure our heroes are housed – tonight!
Urgent – since November 1st we have housed 58 homeless veterans and veteran families. This is triple the veterans we housed last year in the same amount of time. We are finding out that with other sources drying up, the veterans are relying on us more and more. Which also means we are depleting the funding for our areas of operation at a faster pace. And we think that is a good thing, we want to house as many veterans as we can, as fast as we can.
Double your impact:
A very generous company, Jordan Reses Supply Company, is matching every dollar we raise, up to $200,000. So every dollar you give right now will be two dollars.
And no lie, there are veterans literally waiting today who can be housed, they just need the deposit that you can help us give them. Because of so many of us regular Americans care, to date we have housed over 1,250 veterans nationwide. Of course, our work isn’t done until there are no longer veterans sleeping on the streets or in their cars.
They Need You!
Help us give twice as many veterans and veteran families with children a home for the holidays.
So double your impact, donate on-line right now while you are thinking about it, just click here. Or from your phone text “VETS” to 41444 and click through to donate any amount – $5, $25, $50, $500 – every dollar counts and means a veteran is one step closer to being in a home tonight, rather than a car.
They are counting on us to be there for them. #BeTheirAdvocate
Thank you so much for caring, we take care of our own.
Onward – Homeward,
Advocate in Chief
p.s. And if you would like to quadruple your impact, please share this with everyone you now who cares about veterans as much as you do, or post it on your social media. On behalf of those you will help, we thank you!
Veterans Matter’s very own Veronica Mora is currently en route to Arlington as part of the annual Wreaths Across America convoy. As a Gold Star wife, Veronica is among many others who are on this pilgrimage to remember, honor our veterans and teach others the importance.
We will be posting photos and updates from her journey to lay wreaths at the Arlington National Cemetery. Wreaths Across America is a non-profit that, over the years, has been providing and laying wreaths at veterans’ graves across the nation. To learn more about how it all began, read more here.
Today was a perfect example of how people are placed in our lives for a reason, nothing is chance. Our shuttle driver from the hotel to the airport car rental office was not only a Vietnam Veteran but also has been involved with the Wreaths Across America convoy for the past 7 years. Unfortunately, he won’t be part of the festivities this year due to family obligations.
Frank, aka “Spider”, shared with us how Wreaths Across America has been his salvation against his inner demons. “Placing the wreaths on those graves at Arlington brought me to my knees. For the first time in a long time I was at peace for coming home when my brothers didn’t.” What should have been a quick 5 minute car ride turned into a nearly half hour conversation, complete with tears and hugs.
Thank you Frank for sharing your story with us.
Been up since 4:30AM and the day is still full of activities!
Started the morning placing a wreath alongside Gold Star families at Quoddy Point, the Easternmost point in the United States. From there we went to a Calais High School and had breakfast afterwards we placed another wreath at the local college.
O Canada! We trekked over to the US – CANADIAN border bridge and walked arm in arm together with the Gold Star Mothers and presented wreaths to the Silver Cross families of Canada. The Silver Cross families are the Canadian equivalent of Gold Star families. I met Laurie and Donny who lost their son in Afghanistan in 2007.
Now, on to the next adventure of the day!
Veronica stopped in at the National Wreaths Across America Museum and Headquarters in Columbia Falls, ME before heading to a pre-dinner fireworks show.
Day 3 – Ellsworth, Maine
Wreaths Across America Convoy officially started at 8 am!
The convoy will travel through a total of 10 states and the District of Columbia, to reach Arlington, VA on December 16th.
The Kennebunk Elementary School Choir came in to sing for the Wreaths Across America convoy despite having no classes due to snow. Oh my goodness they were cute!
Patriotism is alive and well here in Kennebunk, Maine. It’s below freezing (31°) and everything is covered in snow, yet our convoy is greeted by throngs of people lining the streets.
[1:31 PM EST] Hellllloooo New Hampshire!
[11:45 AM EST] Here was my morning ride, Wreaths Across America Chevrolet Camero. I loved every minute!
Looks like Veronica and convoy have made it to Connecticut – and what a patriotic ride!
[7:51 PM EST] Start spreading the news… New York! New York!
[3:57 AM EST] Why have I been awake since 0345? Because the Wreaths Across America Convoy is going to West Point!
Rest assured that pictures will come soon.
[7:43 AM] Unforgettable sunrise service, breathtakingly beautiful to be surrounded by such valor.
[1:32 PM EST] New Jersey
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Look at that beautiful arch!
Another successful year for Wreaths Across America, over 200,000 wreaths placed upon the graves at Arlington National Cemetery of those who have served our nation. While this convoy from Maine to Virginia was the one we followed this year, there were thousands of other volunteers and family member laying wreaths upon graves across the country. We thank you all for your time and honor those that have fallen. Let us remember those who have served and look to the future for those that are still with us. A big thanks to Veronica Mora for taking us on this journey.
… housed 10 more veterans – check out our new map!
… listened to Ken Leslie talk about 1matters on the radio here:
… remembered those lost on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
… reminded you to double you donation power with the Jordan Reses Supply Co. match! Let’s bring twice as many vets inside for the winter – donate here.
… shared our Black Friday Deal – House two vets for the price of one – thanks to Jordan Reses Supply Co, matching all donations (up to $200,000). Good news for you – the deal is still on!!
… thanked Sunset Bistro in Bowling Green for their generous holiday donations and gift-giving.
… reminded everyone to give back on #GivingTuesday!
… housed 19 more veterans!
… are thinking about bustin’ a move at tonight’s 1st Annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Dance Fever Party benefiting local Toledo, OH charities, including Veterans Matter.
URGENT: Last week we housed 14 homeless veterans and veteran families in 4 states. Right now we have the chance to house twice as many veterans, but we need your help.
This is one of those rare opportunities you have to double your impact!
A very generous company, Jordan Reses Supply Company, is matching every dollar we raise on Giving Tuesday, up to $200,000. So every dollar you give right now will be two dollars.
And no lie, there are veterans literally waiting today who can be housed, they just need the deposit that you can help us give them.
To date, we have housed over 1,200 veterans nationwide. Of course, our work isn’t done until there are no longer veterans sleeping on the streets or in their cars.
Help us give twice as many veterans and veteran families with children a home for the holidays.
So double your impact and donate online right now while you are thinking about it.
Or from your phone, text “VETS” to 41444 and click through to donate any amount.
Thank you so much for caring; we take care of our own.
Onward – Homeward,
Advocate in Chief
p.s. And if you would like to quadruple your impact, please share this with everyone you know who cares about veterans as much as you do, or post it on your social media. On behalf of those you will help, we thank you!
Since our founding in 1990, our methodology in helping the unhoused is always to first see what is missing in helping the most difficult to help, connect dots to fill the gap, and only then if needed create a solution to fill that gap.
For Veterans Matter we noticed that a simple deposit was the ONLY barrier preventing 35 local veterans from getting off the streets into long term housing.
When Dusty Hill, John Mellencamp and Mitch Albom wanted us to expand to house the unhoused veteran in their home states, we created the technology to support it and they raised the funding.
Seeing the need nationwide, the Veterans Matter housing program grew because more and more regular Americans like us found a simple way to guarantee every homeless veteran who can be housed, gets housed. To date over 1,200 veterans and veteran families are now housed in 165 cities nationwide. A little over 39,000 still need to be housed.
What is our newest mission?
For quite some time we have been noticing some of our formerly homeless veterans who are quite employable, have not been able to obtain employment due to either a lack of training or had soft barriers such as a job or criminal history which caused employers to pass our veterans by.
So we began researching ways to leverage existing resources in a low investment/high impact way to assist even more homeless veterans accomplish their goal of re-employment. We found there are many programs to help mainstream veterans, but very few which helped formerly homeless veterans get re-employed. We found the VA and local collaborators have enough current programs to get any veteran READY for employment, a resume, interviewing skills and the like. But we found nothing that gave an employer reason to hire a formerly homeless veteran who has the normal barriers that come with homelessness.
Again working locally with our VA partner Shawn Dowling, we began researching existing capacity to see if dots can be connected. We concluded the greatest void to be filled is to give our formerly homeless veterans in the VA HUD-VASH program a competitive advantage to get hired long term, ultimately returning them to self-sufficiency and financial stability.
How are we answering that call?
Just as we did with our housing program, Veterans Matter is the leading innovator working in close collaboration with the VA and various local partners to develop a pilot program with the potential to be deployed nationwide.
Through integrating our technology, housing, and employment programs across diverse communities, Veterans Matter will now be able to house veterans, get them rapidly connected with medical, mental health and employment assistance in collaboration with the Veterans Administration as well as local and national collaborators. Once job ready, we will help the veterans have the competitive edge in employment by either providing the training in a job class resulting in employment, or giving the employer the financial incentive through job training dollars to hire our formerly homeless veteran who they might not otherwise hire.
Will this solve the problem and get every veteran a job? Of course not.
But our Training and Re-Employment Program (TREP) gives us, as a nation, the ability to make sure every formerly homeless veteran who CAN be employed gets the chance to be employed.
We are designing this program to form a successful, innovative collaboration model integrating technology, housing and our National Collaborative Funding Network, across diverse communities where need for capacity is perceived greatest.
We are again applying business rules to design the program to be highly cost effective and be rapidly deployed to any funded area.
In mid-September we signed a national Memorandum Of Agreement with the Secretary of Veteran Affairs, Robert McDonald, not only for expansion of our housing program, but also new program development such as our employment program, in collaboration with their Homeless Veterans Re-Integration Program (HVRP).
In late September a major donor to our housing program, Jordan Reses Supply Company, out of Ann Arbor, committed full funding for the pilot program.
We want to ensure our efforts are targeted to those who need us most, and with the help of key collaborators we are finding veterans that have demonstrated readiness for competitive employment, as verified by our VA vocational specialists.
We have seen early success. On November 4th we graduated our first two formerly homeless veterans ready for employment through a partnership with Cherry Street Mission’s Life Revitalization Center. Employment is pending.
TREP is, like our housing program, being designed in concert with the VA’s national employment programs to be able to scale up immediately upon securing funding for any city in the nation.
The Veterans Matter housing program grew because more and more regular Americans like us found a simple way to guarantee every homeless veteran who can be housed, gets housed.
With TREP we are doing the same thing. We want to guarantee that every formerly homeless veteran who can be employed, gets employed.
We would like to identify regional or national funding and deployment partners by Q1 of 2017. We envision partnering with a national campaign such as the Chamber of Commerce’s “Hiring our Heroes” program to raise awareness of the program.
If you are an early adapter who likes creating new things and would like more information please contact us.
Veterans Matter: We take care of our own.
Last week something really great happened: the first two participants in our new Training and Re-Employment Program (TREP) graduated from their Call Center Customer Service Training at Cherry St. Mission Ministries’ Life Revitalization Center.
Formerly homeless veterans Mike Riordan and David Smith were among the four graduates of this new program, a vision-made-reality by Dan Rogers of Cherry St. and Michael Osborne of Credit Adjustments, Inc.
It was incredibly touching to watch: The veterans were grateful for the chance at a new career that will help them achieve domestic autonomy.
We want to say a big thank you to Jordan Reses Supply Company, which donated $100,000 to get TREP off the ground. This program has been a dream of many for a long time now, and it’s exciting to see it changing lives!
Click here to learn more about TREP and the Jordan Reses donation.
…shared a video made by B&K Photography and Videography of the Walk to End Veteran Homelessness.
…reminded fans to bid on a guitar signed by Hunter Hayes that was being auctioned as part of the Harry Sandler fundraiser event.
…wished everyone a happy Halloween!
…invited the Toledo area to our chili cook-off 11/11 @ 7 Rally, hosted by the local Exchange Clubs.
…posted about the first Ugly Christmas Sweater party presented by Blessings in Disguise, which will be raising money for Veterans Matter and other organizations.
…and congratulated Mike Riordan and David Smith, the first two graduates of our new Training and Re-Employment Program (TREP). The program helps formerly homeless veterans train for and get hired in new careers.
First, Mr. Mellencamp, on behalf of the thousands of people who have found housing and employment because of you, we say ‘Thank you, John!”
Before his 2007 concert in Toledo, John Mellencamp made a chance visit to our Tent City – Project Connect event downtown. What was supposed to be a ten minute in-and-out turned into a one hour visit.
I have no idea what sparked the connection, what made John care so much.
My hunch is it was when he and his son Hud met privately with several of the people helped by Tent City. It was cool to see how Hud hung at the perimeter in the beginning, but by the end had moved himself up to hear the stories exchanged between our guests and his dad as they all opened up to each other.
As he was moving to the stage, after his private conversations, he told the media he was impressed with how the community came together to show compassion for those who need compassion.
He was impressed enough that he invited all of the Tent City guests to his show that night; 60 went.
One came back and told me “Ken, John talked to us from the stage. I guess I really do matter.” From this moment, 1Matters was born.
What had been a local project grew to become a regional 501(c) 3 non-profit, which John has continued to support. 1Matters.org now creates and funds new programs that return people to financial and domestic autonomy, including street papers in Ann Arbor, Detroit and Toledo, a program addressing rural homelessness, and most recently a national program, Veterans Matter, which has already housed over 1,200 veterans in 165 cities nationwide.
This growth has been driven by John’s continued support and engagement. Good things keep happening.
Note: Fresh off a two year stint as Katy Perry’s tour manager, Harry is presenting his third show of his art this month at the Toledo School for the Arts Porter Gallery, and is hosting a Veterans Matter fundraiser this Wednesday the 19th at the gallery from 6 – 9 p.m. John has donated a pair of tickets and meet and greets for the silent auction at the event. For information and tickets visit this link right here. See you there!
In an interview I told the press that “John has made it a lifelong mission to use his celebrity not just to draw attention, but to provide his time, capacity and resources to many organizations which care for others, such as Farm Aid.”
And I think that is the difference. He could have just written a check and moved on. But instead he invests some of his heart for those on the streets.
And that heart generates so much more.
One example is in part because of John’s long-term engagement with us. Jordan Reses Supply Co. out of Ann Arbor just made a national commitment of $300,000 for housing veterans and funding the start-up of our new Training and Re-Employment Program (TREP) to hire and train formerly homeless veterans who otherwise might not get the chance.
And that heart brings with it some pretty incredible people. His manager Randy Hoffman, publicist Claire Mercuri, and social media guru Tony Buechler have all played a key role in helping to make this event in Toledo happen. We thank you!
For me personally, John Mellencamp is one of the three men I admire most. A man who by example used his celebrity to bring people together to do good. Who inspired me 26 years ago to use my celebrity as a comedian — to bring the community together to help those on the streets. Who, in 2007, made a short visit that turned into thousands being helped.
This Friday, prior to the public events in Toledo, John will again meet privately at Tent City with some of the people housed or employed by the very programs that were created because he cared. Why?
Because John has proven with his life and his heart: Everyone truly does matter!
Carrie’s “The Storyteller Tour – Stories in the Round” stops in Cincinnati next Thursday the 20th of October. She has donated 4 tickets and 4 meet & greets passes for the show that evening at the U.S. Bank Arena.
The tour’s 18 semi-trucks and 8 buses will roll into Cincinnati, continuing its highly-successful 2016 run. Since its launch in January, fans and critics have been raving about Carrie’s stand-out performances coupled with the dramatic in-the-round stage production.
The show “is a no-expense-spared spectacle that highlights her approachable beauty, her roar of a voice and a substantive set of songs that have commanded the charts since her ‘American Idol’ victory a long decade ago,” expressed the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “The in-the-round setup commissioned by Underwood allows for unparalleled vantage points – and even those in the arena’s highest peaks could watch one of four oval video screens situated above each side of the stage.” And says the Florida Times-Union, “Lasers and swaying spotlights and fireworks and explosions all added to the spectacle. But make no mistake; Underwood was the star of the show.”
Carrie’s donation is part of a Veterans Matter fundraiser on October 19th at the Toledo School of the Arts Porter Gallery. The entitled ‘Images from a Photographic Journey;’ has been designed by Harry Sandler to raise money to house more veterans nationwide.
Harry Sandler, as tour manager for such acts as John Mellencamp, Billy Joel, Van Halen, and most recently the Katy Perry tour, has traveled the world capturing breathtaking vistas from all corners of the globe. Many of these vistas are captured for his show at the gallery.
100% of the proceeds from this auction will go to Veterans Matter to get more veterans and veteran families with children off the streets before the chill of winter hits.
Bid high, to help house more veterans!
Katy Perry wants to meet YOU!
Katy Perry’s compassion for veterans shines through again via concert tickets and a meet-and-greet package for 4 to inspire you to help her help us house more veterans.
This package is part of a fundraiser by Harry Sandler to house more veterans nationwide. Harry Sandler, as Katy’s Prismatic tour manager, traveled the world with her, capturing breathtaking vistas from all corners of the globe.
Many of these vistas are captured for his show “Images From a Photographic Journey” which runs from October 3rd to 30th at the Toledo School for the Arts’ Porter Gallery in Toledo, Ohio.
Katy’s donation, along with a signed image, is part of a fundraiser Harry is hosting on October 19th at the gallery. 100% of the proceeds will go to Veterans Matter to get more veterans and veteran families with children off the streets before the chill of winter hits.
This isn’t the first time Katy has helped us house veterans. On her last tour she gave us a similar package to auction. The money raised from that auction housed 22 veterans in Texas and Michigan, AND started Operation Mid-Atlantic! Katy spent over 20 minutes talking with the winner, Scott Vaughn, before her concert, thanking him personally and telling him “Thank you so much for helping Veterans Matter. It is so important that we help those who fought for our freedom.”
Now she wants to do it again, and the winner could be you! The package will be available to bid on eBay starting October 10th and bidding will end at midnight on the 19th. This package can be used at any show on the US leg of Katy’s next tour, possibly in 2017.
Bid high, Katy wants to meet YOU!
…gave a sneak peek at this guitar, signed by John Mellencamp, which will be available for auction as part of the Harry Sandler show and benefit.
…shared this blog post, a thank you to everyone involved with the Veterans Matter Ride.
…added pictures of veterans unfurling the flag at the UT game to the Veterans Matter Ride photo album on our Facebook page.
…announced 3 more veterans housed in Ohio recently, and the latest Veterans Housed to Date numbers.
…and reminded everyone to sign up for the Walk to End Veteran Homelessness and start raising money for it.
What an amazing experience Veterans Matter had Saturday, September 10th as part of the University of Toledo’s Hero Appreciation Day and game.
In the morning we witnessed the compassion of more than 100 Harley-Davidson enthusiasts as they rode from the University of Toledo to the Toledo Harley-Davidson shop on W. Central Ave. Great thanks go out to Tim Sherman and Karen Huss of Toledo and Signature Harley-Davidson for organizing this amazing event to help house our nation’s homeless heroes!
An emotional welcome speech from Haraz Ghanbari (Director of Military & Veteran Affairs at UT) moved the crowd before the ride.
Thank you all for your continued support of not only our homeless heroes but ALL heroes!
And that was just Saturday morning!
The Saturday evening thank you FROM the veterans!
As part of the University of Toledo’s Hero Appreciation football game at the Glass Bowl, 15 local formerly homeless heroes who were housed by Veterans Matter thanked the local community and nation. They showed their appreciation by unfurling the nation’s flag during the Star Spangled Banner as two F-16 fighters from the 180th roared overhead to start the University of Toledo’s first home football game.
This was their way of saying thank you to the community at large for helping them, as they now work to help others. Most were overwhelmed by the impact of the National Anthem, F-16 fly-by, and the roar of the crowd.
Thank yous go out to Haraz Ghanbari and Heather Lutz (Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing and Sales at the university) who coordinated everything to make this happen for the veterans!
Exhausting weekend to say the least! Heartwarming to see our community come together to honor those who have sacrificed so much for their country.
God Bless America!
…announced a planning meeting for this year’s Walk to End Veteran Homelessness, for anyone interested in helping.
…reported the latest numbers of veterans we’ve housed in each state.
…posted this blog post about the guitar signed by Phil Collen of Def Leppard that will be up for auction.
…made this announcement:
…shared an upcoming event for Toledo-area veterans, GI Go.
…and reminded our friends to register and start fundraising for the Walk to End Veteran Homelessness.
Harry Sandler has been the tour manager for artists including John Mellencamp and Katy Perry. For years, he’s traveled the world and captured breathtaking images – of the places he’s been and the people he’s seen.
Harry also happens to be a Veterans Matter ally, advocate and board member. In October, he’s bringing his photography to the Toledo School for the Arts’ Porter Gallery to raise money to house more homeless veterans.
Harry’s work will be for sale during the exhibit, which will run October 3-30. There will also be a fundraiser event October 19, which will include a silent auction featuring unbelievable items.
One of those items: A gorgeous Jackson electric guitar signed by Def Leppard lead guitarist Phil Collen.
Def Leppard has sold over 100 million albums to date, and are one of only six bands to have achieved two diamond albums in America. Collen joined the band in 1982 during the recording of Pyromania, Def Leppard’s breakthrough album.
Collen has been influenced by guitar players such as Ritchie Blackmore, Jimi Hendrix and Mick Ronson. He and the late Steve Clark, Collen’s best friend and band mate, had been dubbed “The Terror Twins.” Their harmonious guitar playing became known as the “Def Leppard sound.”
In addition to Def Leppard, Collen writes and performs music with two other bands: the punk funk rock band MANRAZE, and blues rock soul band DELTA DEEP.
Collen’s autographed guitar would make an extremely cool addition to a rock-lover’s collection!
Def Leppard is currently on tour in North America and will be stopping in Toledo Oct. 8.
…announced 1,148 veterans housed to date!
…shared Toledo.com’s post about Tent City and the Veterans Matter Walk to End Veterans Homelessness.
…reminded fans to register for the Veterans Matter Ride.
…and shared the commercial Harley-Davidson made for the fundraiser. Watch it here!
…announced registration is open for the Walk.
…posted this Blade article about John Mellencamp visiting in October.
…and shared more news about the Ride with Harley-Davidson and the University of Toledo.
Will we see you at the Ride today?
Tent City and the Walk to End Veteran Homelessness are less than 7 weeks – 45 days – away (but who’s counting?)! Registration for the walk and the volunteer signup are officially OPEN TODAY!
Walk to End Veteran Homelessness
This year, singer John Mellencamp will return to Tent City as Honorary Mayor. He will kick off the walk during a presentation at the Civic Center Mall. The walk will mark the start of Tent City weekend at 6 p.m. on Friday, October 21.
1Matters.org was started by Mellencamp’s visit to Tent City in 2007. After he invited all the guests to his show that night, one came back and said, “Ken, John talked to us from the stage. I guess I really do matter.”
You can click here to register to participate and raise money for the walk. The fundraising website will allow you to set up your own page and share it with everyone, friends, family, or total strangers via email or social media so they can contribute to the cause. All money raised will go toward housing more veterans. Help us show John – and the nation – that Toledo cares about veterans!
BONUS: The top fundraiser this year (and a guest) will be John’s guest to his show that evening at the Stranahan Theater AND meet him after the show! A second two-ticket meet-and-greet package will be for auction at Harry Sandler’s show and Veterans Matter benefit October 19th at the TSA Porter Gallery.
Tent City Volunteers
This will be the 27th year of advocacy. Each year, we are able to offer so much to others: clothes, food, medical services, vital documents, fellowship and friendship. But it can’t happen without many compassionate volunteers.
Do you want to help prepare and serve a meal? Sort clothing? Or maybe acting as a guide for guests at Project Connect would suit you. See where the need is and sign up here.
Whether you are an individual or part of a group that wants to volunteer, we’d love to have you!
Stay for a few hours or the whole weekend. We guarantee you will leave changed.
Harry Sandler’s Images From a Photographic Journey
By the way, rock and roll tour manager and photographer Harry Sandler will have his photography exhibit, “Harry Sandler: Images from a Photographic Journey” at Toledo School for the Arts Porter Gallery October 3-30. On October 19, a fundraiser event has been planned. Harry’s photography will be available for purchase and there will be a silent auction, which will include another meet-and-greet package for John Mellencamp’s show at the Stranahan, as well as a meet-and-greet with Katy Perry, signed guitars from Phil Collen of Def Leppard and John Mellencamp, and so much more! We hope you will join us. Email us for tickets as there will only be 100 tickets available. ($25 ea.)
Please share this with everyone you think might have an interest.
I have been involved with helping those on the streets since 1990. I have had thousands of donors over those years and I have to say: Never have I experienced one with the level of compassion of Jordan Reses Supply Company.
Then you know you are seeing something very special – a very real, very special commitment to veterans in general, and homeless veterans in particular.
If you heard that a company donated half a million dollars to house veterans, you would expect it to be Pepsi or Mastercard doing it because it fit their national marketing plan. Not a small, unknown Michigan company that has made it their business to help veterans and generously share the fruits of this labor with the veterans who have been most ignored, those on the streets. Why? Because they too figure it is our fair share as regular Americans to help. We take care of our own.
We will use one third of this gift to fund the pilot of our new employment program in Toledo and Detroit. Tentatively titled our “Training and Re-Employment Program,” we are creating it because we are finding veterans who are now housed wanting to find a way to work and return to self sufficiency, they just need a hand up. We are extending that hand. And the compassion of Jordan Reses allows us the luxury to approach it as “We have the money, so how can we BEST use this money to help as many of our formerly homeless veterans as possible gain employment?”
We will use the rest of the gift to leverage national fundraising around our Veterans Day “11/11 @ 7 Rallies.” Exchange Clubs nationwide have adopted Veterans Matter’s efforts to house more veterans in their communities, regions, and the nation, with many staging simultaneous events that night, at 7 p.m.
After they told me what they wanted to do I got pretty choked up. Compassion moves me, always has. I get choked up at those videos of people doing nice things to help others. I get even more choked up at the invisible compassion. The men, women and children who will be sleeping in a home rather than a car or on concrete this winter will never know who got them that pillow that lies under their head. But we do. And words are not adequate to convey our gratitude.
Simply thank you.
JORDAN RESES COMMITS $300,000 TO HELP VETERANS MATTER HOUSE AND EMPLOY THE MOST NEGLECTED VETERANS.
Toledo, Ohio – When Cheryl Nilsson retired from the Air Force, and after serving several years as legal counsel for a government contractor, she was moved by a strong desire to give back to veterans and the community.
Now, as a service-disabled veteran small business owner, Cheryl is doing just that through her company, First Nation Group, LLC. First Nation Group has a principal location in one of the poorest zip codes of Detroit and is certified by the Small Business Administration as a Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUB Zone). “The focus is revitalization in a neighborhood that needs hope, opportunity and more jobs. We intend to expand that footprint including a focus on homeless veterans,” said Nilsson.
This year First Nation Group merged with the equally veteran-focused Jordan Reses Supply Company. Led by CEO Steve Baugh, the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Jordan Reses has a long history of giving back to veterans; regionally through Honor Flight, and nationally by housing homeless veterans through Veterans Matter.
“The merger process took well over one year to complete with a common theme that kept us steadfast. The theme was that the merged businesses would be better positioned and more successful, thus providing more opportunity to fulfill our shared philanthropic goals. First Nation’s acquisition of Jordan Reses only strengthens our long-term commitment to veteran causes like Veterans Matter,” said Baugh.
Veterans Matter was started by “Advocate in Chief” Ken Leslie, a formerly homeless man, as a way to house 35 homeless veterans through the VA HUD-VASH program in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio. At the urging of Dusty Hill of ZZ Top and John Mellencamp, Leslie expanded the homeless veteran reintegration program to house veterans in the two singers’ home states. Thanks to over 20 additional celebrities, the program has expanded nationally, having housed more than 1,100 homeless veterans in 12 states.
After First Nation acquired Jordan Reses this year, the two forces of compassion for veterans and their community, now doing business as Jordan Reses Supply Co., expanded their past giving by committing an additional $300,000 over the next two years: $200,000 to house homeless veterans, and $100,000 to provide startup funding for the new Veterans Matter Training and Re-Employment Program. (TREP)
The Veterans Matter TREP program will utilize the organization’s innovative housing program technology infrastructure to provide financial incentives for companies to hire formerly homeless veterans enrolled in the VA’s homeless veterans program.
To celebrate Veterans Day and double the value of the housing pledge, the two groups will use it as an incentive match for all money raised on Veterans Day through the “Veterans Matter 11/11 @ 7 Rallies” taking place across the nation. Last year over 50 cities had rallies, most sponsored by local Exchange Clubs.
“This totals more than half a million dollars they have pledged and contributed to help homeless veterans through our program alone. Rather than make money for money’s sake, I think committed companies like First Nation and Jordan Reses make money to give back to those who have served. Tonight there will be veterans and their children with pillows under their heads instead of concrete or cardboard. That is the power of their compassion,” said Leslie.
For more information about First Nation Group dba Jordan Reses Supply Co. visit www.jrsupplyco.com
Veterans Matter is a program of 1Matters.org, a non-profit 501c3 sparked and supported by singer John Mellencamp which creates and funds innovative programs to return the unhoused to financial and domestic autonomy. More information can be found at Veteransmatter.org.
This is BIG NEWS – with more to come on Monday!
Before his 2007 concert in Toledo, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer John Mellencamp made a chance visit to the Tent City – Project Connect event downtown and was impressed with how “the community comes together to give compassion to those who need compassion.” He was impressed enough that he invited all of the Tent City guests to his show that night; 60 went.
One returned after the show and said to Tent City founder Ken Leslie, “Ken, John talked to us from the stage. I guess I really do matter.” From this, 1Matters was born.
What had been a local project grew to become a regional 501(c)3 non-profit, which Mellencamp has continued to support. 1Matters.org now creates and funds new programs that return people to financial and domestic autonomy, including street papers in three cities, a program addressing rural homelessness, and most recently a national program, Veterans Matter, which has already housed over 1,100 veterans in 12 states.
This fall, before his concert at the Stranahan on Oct. 21, Mellencamp will return to Tent City, this time as the Honorary Mayor and Grand Marshal to kick off Tent City and the Veterans Matter Walk to End Veteran Homelessness.
“John has made it a lifelong mission to use his celebrity not just to draw attention, but to provide his time, capacity and resources to countless organizations which care for others, such as Farm Aid. The goal here in Toledo is to bring the national spotlight to Toledo’s compassion and our urgent mission to house 2,000 more veterans nationwide this year,” Leslie said.
Leslie said the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer’s support draws more than just attention.
“In part because of John’s long-term engagement with us, Jordan Reses Supply Co. out of Ann Arbor just made a national commitment of $300,000 for housing veterans and funding the start-up of our new employment program to hire the vets after they are housed.”
Prior to the public events in Toledo, Mellencamp will meet privately with some of the people housed by the organization’s programs.
“John probably does as much quiet support as he does public support,” Leslie said. “Yes, he does PSAs and raises funds for us, but the happiest I have seen him is on the road when we take him to a shelter and he meets the people there. In one shelter cafeteria with over 50 people, alone without staff, John went table to table extending his hand and greeting every single person with, ‘Hi, I’m John, what is your name?’ Everyone was really moved by that.”
To help the group raise additional funds, Mellencamp will also invite the highest Veterans Matter Walk fundraiser and a guest to his show that evening with a meet-and-greet immediately following. The singer is donating an additional ticket package to support the Oct. 19 fundraiser hosted by his long-time tour manager and 1Matters board member Harry Sandler. Sandler will be presenting an October-long show of his photography, “Images of a Photographic Journey,” at the Toledo School for the Arts Porter Gallery.
About Tent City
Started in 1990 by Ken Leslie, formerly homeless himself, Toledo’s Tent City – Project Connect has focused the region’s compassion on restoring the unhoused to financial and domestic autonomy. In addition to housing and employment, the weekend-long Tent City delivers a complete medical center, critical documents including IDs and birth certificates, dental services, clothing, haircuts, food and entertainment.
About Veterans Matter
Veterans Matter was started to house 35 local veterans as the result of one of the “blitzes” Leslie conducts with the VA’s homeless outreach teams. Leslie created Veterans Matter to provide deposits directly to landlords to eliminate the last barrier preventing homeless veterans from crossing the threshold into VA-supported, long-term voucher-assisted housing. This partnership gives Veterans Matter a 100 percent success rate housing veterans in the VA’s long-term housing program that has a 91 percent success rate keeping them housed.