Veterans Column: A Volunteer Finds a Calling with Veterans
When I walked into the Ventura County Community Foundation’s nonprofit center in Camarillo, which houses many nonprofits, I was looking for volunteer work that would add purpose to my life.
I proudly figured anyone would be and should be happy to have me. After all, I would do just about anything and was willing to work unlimited hours for free. Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I found that none of these organizations had current need for my particular talents.
Luckily, the last office I wandered into, the nonprofit I had the least interest in, showed the most interest in me: the Gold Coast Veterans Foundation. I have since been floored by the meaning and purpose brought into my life by helping a foundation whose mission is to “serve those who have served us.”
When I realized the critical importance this foundation plays in supporting our veterans, I was both humbled by their commitment and shamed by my lack of it. Some of their missions that particularly impress me include assistance with benefits and claims, financial coaching, job training, healing and wellness and job opportunities.
The nonprofit also fulfills vets’ wish lists, such as wheel chairs, furniture for new housing, transportation to medical appointments and most importantly of all, housing assistance. Through the Mobile Veteran Outreach program, the foundation is dedicated to preventing and solving veteran homelessness in Ventura County.
One couple — a Navy veteran and an Army veteran — met with Rafael Stoneman, head of the foundation’s Mobile Veteran Outreach, and Leo, his 160-pound service dog. At the time, their situation was urgent.
While helping them to find and navigate housing programs that particularly serve veterans, Stoneman was able to secure for them a 24-day hotel voucher.
With the help of the Mobile Veteran Outreach, the pair, who met at Ventura College before embarking on their military service, is exploring different housing options. They continue to hit walls, but the foundation is committed to helping them find a solution to their housing crisis. The nonprofit will not lessen their efforts until this couple has a place to call home.
Now, I can say that I am proud to be part of an organization that is dedicated to changing the lives of local veterans, people who have put their lives on the line and been committed to saving lives like yours and mine.
Donna Lockwood is a volunteer with the Gold Coast Veterans Foundation. Her father was a combat veteran of the Korean War. To learn more about the foundation, visit https://gcvf.org. To explore volunteer opportunities at the foundation, visit https://gcvf.org/volunteer.
Source: VC Star article from March 29, 2020