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OCTOBER 20, 2011 HOMELESSNESS Stepping up at a critical time

When a transitional housing residence for homeless veterans in New Jersey hit a snag in construction costs, Legion family members in the state sprang into action.

By Andy Romey Department of Veterans Aff airs Secretary Eric

Shinseki has asked communities and local governments to join him in the fi ght to end veteran homelessness, and help shepherd those who have served back into the society they fought to protect. T at call to action resonated with Legionnaires in

New Jersey. Rallied by their department leadership’s advocacy, Legion family members from the Garden State reached deep into their pockets to fund furnish- ings for a state homeless-veterans housing center experiencing fi nancial uncertainty amid its expansion. Veterans Haven, which provides transitional housing to veterans who have fallen on hard times, underwent a massive construction project this summer that added a new 44-apartment residential building to its premises. T e addition was largely made possible by Legionnaires, Sons and Auxiliary members throughout the state, who donated nearly $165,000 to the project so that the housing wing could be properly furnished. T e building

CHILDREN & YOUTH CWF grant recipients announced T e American Legion Child Welfare

Foundation, celebrating its 57th year, recently announced its grant recipients, awarding a total of $506,683 to 18 nonprofi t organizations. T e grants, which were approved during CWF’s annual board of directors meeting in Indianapolis on Oct. 9, will support projects that benefi t the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of

children. 

Alström Syndrome International of

Mount Desert, Maine, provides support and information to families and profes- sionals on Alström Syndrome, a rare genetic disease. T e organization was awarded $13,125 for its project, “T e Alström Syndrome Handbook.” T is grant will help produce a soſt cover binder with 12 topic dividers and approximately 40 pages of content (e.g., photographs, fi gures, graphs, timelines

and supporting materials). 

American Humane Association of

Englewood, Colo., protects children, pets and farm animals from abuse and neglect. T e organization was awarded $35,250 for its project, “Family Group Decision Making Docutraining.” T is grant will fund the production and distribution of 3,500 docutraining workbooks, 100 facilitator guides, DVDs

and marketing materials. 

Angel Flight Soars, Inc., of Atlanta

provides patients with free air transpor- tation for medical treatments not available locally. T e organization was awarded $16,564 for its project, “Angel Flight Soars ‘Broadcast Outreach Campaign.’” T is grant will fund the production and dissemination of information for pilot recruitment and outreach to the general community,

through medical and other facilities. 

Autism Speaks, Inc., of New York is

dedicated to raising awareness of autism, and fi nding a cure. T e organization was awarded $22,500 for its project, “100 Day

Kit for Newly Diagnosed Families.” T e kit puts critical information on autism directly in the hands of the people who

need it most – parents. 

Be T e Match Foundation of Minne-

apolis is dedicated to raising the funds needed for a patient to receive his or her necessary transplant. T e organization was awarded $16,050 for its DVD project, “Super Sam vs. the Marrow Monsters: A Guide to Bone Marrow Transplant for Children.” T is grant will help produce

3,000 copies of the DVD. 

Birth Defect Research for Children of

Orlando, Fla., provides parents and expectant parents with information about birth defects and support services. T e organization was awarded $18,500 for its project, “Birth Defect Research for Children's Accessibility & Outreach Project.” T is grant will purchase soſt ware to allow website visitors to hear content online. T e grant will also purchase three ads in the online maga-

zine Healthy Mom & Baby. 

Children’s Institute, Inc., of

Rochester, N.Y., is focused on strength- ening children's social and emotional health. T e organization was awarded $9,500 for its DVD project, “Building Strong Military Families T rough Play.” T is grant will help disperse 1,000 DVDs to National Guard and reserve centers nationwide, as well as to other centers

serving military children and families. 

Mercy Medical Airliſt of Virginia

Beach, Va., transports patients to distant medical treatment. T e organization was awarded $43,400 for its project, “Child Health Program - Info Dissemination Upgrade.” T is grant will provide for fi ve modernized and upgraded websites, and a full social-media presence, providing information to the public and pediatric- medical world regarding child-patient

long-distance medical transportation. 

National Association for the Educa- tion of Homeless Children and Youth of

Minneapolis is the voice for the educa- tion of children and youth experiencing homelessness. T e organization was awarded $41,000 for its project, “Voices for Homeless Students.” T is grant will help produce a redesigned website, a new

"Advocate's Toolkit" and a PSA. 

National Center for Missing &

Exploited Children of Alexandria, Va., serves as the nation’s resource on the issues of missing and sexually exploited children. T e organization was awarded $25,500 for its project, “Child ID App.” T e grant will fund the development of

an iPhone Child ID application. 

Organization for Autism Research

of Arlington, Va., applies research to the challenges of autism, and off ers commu- nicational and educational tools. T e organization was awarded $49,355 for its project, “Understanding Autism: A Guide for Secondary Teachers.” T is grant will help produce a video-based learning module to give educators a

better understanding of autism. 

Second Wind Fund, Inc., of Lake-

wood, Colo., focuses on decreasing teen suicide by providing treatment to at-risk youth. T e organization was awarded $23,724 for its project, “Teen Suicide IS Preventable,” a campaign to educate school gatekeepers about suicide preven- tion and how Second Wind Fund can help reduce the teen-suicide rate in their communities. T is grant will allow Second Wind Fund to develop a short multimedia presentation, showing the success Second Wind Fund has had in lowering teen-suicide rates, to be used as a practical guide for school mental-

health staff . 

National Institute for Trauma and

Loss in Children of Albion, Mich., creates a healthy environment for traumatized children. T e organization was awarded $20,000 for its web-based service project, “Trauma Informed and Resilience Focused Virtual Resource

Center for Military Parents.” 

Texas National Guard Family

Support Foundation of Austin, Texas, provides programs to support military families. T e organization was awarded $40,000 for its project, “My Parent Is Deploying To Combat.” T is grant will provide brochures for children currently in school that will explain to their teachers, counselors and administrators

what it means to have a parent deployed. 

T e Legion’s Department of Kansas,

headquartered in Topeka, was awarded $32,000 for its project, “Drug Free America - Ruler - Bookmark.” T is grant will help produce a six-inch ruler/ bookmark containing an anti-drug message on one side, and the Pledge of

Allegiance on the other. 

T inkFirst Foundation of

Naperville, Ill., focuses on preventing injury through education, research and policy. T e organization was awarded $25,715 for its project, “T ink- First Campaign to Prevent Childhood Injuries.” T is grant will fund 100 T inkFirst for Kids curricula sets for grade levels 1-8, and will also fund

posters and brochures. 

Tragedy Assistance Program for

Survivors, Inc., of Washington, is a tragedy-assistance resource for anyone who has suff ered the loss of a loved one in the military. T e organiza- tion was awarded $25,000 for its project, “TAPS Grieving Children’s Care Kit - ‘Klinger: A Story of Hope.” T is grant will fund a second printing of the

care kit, and purchase stuff ed horses. 

T e Legion’s Department of Arizona

and the SAL’s Detachment of Arizona, both headquarted in Phoenix, were awarded $49,500 for the start-up cost of their project, “Deployment Josh Development Program.”

On the Web:

will be offi cially unveiled Oct. 27 at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. “T e American Legion has

stepped up hugely,” says Sean Van Lew, superintendent of Veterans Haven. “When we began construc- tion, a lot of the money we had set aside for amenities and furniture in rooms was consumed in the construction process. “With that money from the

Legion, we are able to purchase brand-new bedroom furniture for all 44 rooms, computers and computer accessories for our computer room, new offi ce furniture, and equipment for the conference center.” T e donation drive was a personal project of Past

Department Commander Bob Looby, who learned of Veterans Haven’s swelling construction costs and decided to make it a focus of his tenure. Working with offi cials from the facility, Looby and department

Past New Jersey Department Commander Bob Looby (left) talks with Veterans Haven Superintendent Sean Van Lew (center) and Legion Deputy Director Mark Walker (right). Amy C. Elliot

leadership devised a system whereby a donation of $2,000, covering the furnishing costs of an entire apartment, would allow that apartment to be named in honor of the person or group that made the donation. Legionnaires and posts are recognized with a plaque at the entrance of the apartment in which their contribu- tion paid for the furnishings.

See STEPPING on Page 8

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