Lodge 1108 received a $10,000 Elks National Foundation (ENF) Focus Grant to start our local Lodge program that helps arrange furniture and home furnishings for “newly homed” (mostly previously homeless) veterans!
In Marin County homeless veterans are usually placed through HUD-VASH (U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, VA Supportive Housing) programs using Section 8 housing vouchers.
However, when taking a number of these veterans on shopping trips for basic bed linens and kitchen supplies, using the Elks’ $300 “Welcome Home Grant” for veterans, we discovered that they are provided, with a bed at most for their new apartment.
So far, we have been successful in finding a limited amount of Elks’ donated furniture to supplement the basic bed. It’s been a matter of timing to match the few Elks that have something to donate (furniture, appliances, etc.), with a veteran who could use it, at the time they want to make the donation.
With this $10,000 grant we will be able to supplement any storage space available at the Lodge, so that we can accept donated furniture and appliances and put them in storage to donate to veterans when needed. Now, when a veteran is placed in a new home, we can take him or her “shopping” in our storage room(s) to furnish their apartments as soon as possible!
Other veterans we have served in the past who are still poorly furnished can be helped as well. These funds can also cover purchases of additional items that veterans may need not in storage, including small appliances such as microwave ovens and mixers.
Donated Goods and Services really help us to stretch the budget! One possible source of furniture are real estate agents who have clients downsizing or moving away, wanting to dispose of their furniture.
There are currently 40 veterans active with this Elks Veterans Committee program, and we anticipate more demand as more Section 8 housing units become available to veterans in Marin.
As always, we continue to provide information on Veterans Benefits. We have a binder full of veterans benefit information available to any veteran who may need help in getting the benefits that they earned through their service and/or disability. We are also able to refer veterans for rental assistance through Marin County.
Finally, we should remember that one of the reasons we are free and safer than most people in this world is because of those who served to keep us that way. Many veterans, particularly those with PTSD, feel abandoned by the people they have served. This is a major reason for a high level of veteran suicide. A kind word to a veteran, expressing appreciation and thanking them for their service, can go a long way to helping dispel this feeling.
Please be in touch with San Rafael Elks Lodge 1108 if you have any furniture or household items to donate, or, if you know of any veterans who can use this service.
Peter Behr, Veterans Committee Chair ●●
Links to Veterans Services