Volunteer work to benefit U.S.VETS

In memory of the tragedies of September 11, more than two dozen volunteers pitched in to help spruce up a Park Road apartment complex that serves as a haven for military veterans overcoming homelessness.

“I know that we’re out here for one day and I didn’t come out expecting that we’d be able to change the world or anything like that,” said volunteer Briana Webster. “But I thought that if I could just give a little of my time and help someone, whether it’s with helping to beautify their home, like this project, or brightening up their day a little bit, I thought that it was something that was important to me,” added Webster, relationship manager for the nonprofit Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

The service project to help the veterans was one of many planned specifically with the tenth anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001 in mind, according to organizers at Hands On Greater DC Cares. The goal was to harness the efforts of over 10,000 volunteers at over 50 locations throughout the region including schools, nonprofits, and community-based sites such as the U.S.VETS apartments at 525 Park Road NW. And throughout their day of freshening up the building, the volunteers didn’t forget about why they came together.

“On a day where we really think about what’s happened to our country, where we’ve come, our veterans have done so much for us,” said Webster. “I thought this was a great way to honor them for their effort.”

Some veterans, including those now returning from conflicts in the Middle East, are at particular risk of homelessness. About 12 percent of all Americans experiencing homelessness are veterans, while less than 8 percent of the total US population are vets, according to federal data. The District itself has over 500 homeless veterans, an annual regional count of local homeless people found.

With facilities in five states and the District, U.S.VETS, also known as the United States Veterans Initiative, provides case management, employment assistance, job placement, counseling and drug and alcohol-free housing to help thousands of veterans including the Park Road apartment building’s manager, Marvin Peasley, to stop “drifing” and return to civilian life. Peasley, a veteran of the US Army, works with his residents as a sort of community assistant, and is there to help them with personal as well as building maintenance issues.

The work at the Park Road apartment complex was one of three service projects designed to help U.S.VETS programs over the weekend. Two projects focused upon housing programs. At the third, volunteers made scarves and comfort kits for homeless veterans.

“All the volunteers who helped were so motivated and caring and wonderful,” said Emily Button, a U.S.VETS program director.

“People really want opportunities to serve our veterans because our veterans give up a lot for us and people are proud of them and grateful to them,” added Button. “ We are working for a day we can no longer say any of our veterans are without a home and grateful for the community support we receive to help them find homes.”

This article was originally published at: streetsense.org.

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