2017 MVRC is growing like flowers in spring…

An important aspect of the work of MVRC is connecting with available resources in our community to serve those who have served. Below are some brief highlights from the past few months about how our partnerships, your donations, and the care coordination team has been able to empower our military community in the area.

Case 1: MVRC, along with Rev. Shirley King, were able to assist a veteran mom by paying for two nights in a hotel for her and her girls while waiting for a new home. We were also able to connect them to HOPE church which provided 3 Easter baskets 2 for the girls and one special basket with a gift card for mom!  We collected clothes and some house supplies to donate and were able to connect her with a mattress for her new home. 🙂

Case 2: Through the help of private donations and our coalition partner Archangel Alliance, we were able to prevent eviction for a Vietnam veteran and their small child. This veteran was also connected to coalition resources that will help empower their financial success. Through our partners with local veteran service organizations, we are able to holistically meet the needs of individuals, so that not one organization is bearing the weight and so that every veteran received comprehensive care to help empower them.

Case 3: Through generous donations and partners, MVRC was able to help a marine veteran from Durham and his wife obtain a washer and dryer and couch for their home. With help of CARMEDIX in Durham  and emergency fund donations we were able to help the couple get their car repaired in order to ensure the veteran is able to continue to keep his appointments at the VA.  It’s partners like CARMEDIX who are community members, outside of the traditional military support organization system, who care and help by donating services or time as they are able. We welcome CARMEDIX to the MVRC community.

Case 4: An urgent plea for a female veteran went out to our coalition partners and friends in March. After recovering from breast cancer, this individual was on the verge of homelessness and lacked food security. Our community pulled together to not only secure her housing, provide her with monthly food assistance but to also help pay her past due utility services! A wonderful example of how any individual or group can support military and become a coalition partner would be the Friends of New Bern Avenue. In this case, Ms. King-Morgan sent out a plea to her community members- asking them to support this veteran. No gift is too small, including the individual who contacted me to provide fresh eggs from her chickens for this person. The Friends of New Bern Avenue reminded us that EVERYONE can do something to assist, all we have to do it try!

Behind the scenes:

The requests are pouring in, and so is the support. MVRC has gained 4 new board members since January and we are working diligently on community offerings in the coming months. Our accomplishments include:

  • Developing a new tracking system to ensure we follow up with needs as effectively as possible.
  • Developing a new partnership system to continue to understand the needs and offerings of our partners and develop a strong network to serve those who have served.
  • Created an event calendar. Stay tuned for some new and excited opportunities to get involved with MVRC and Your military community!
  • Brought in 4 new partner organizations to support military, veterans and families.
  • Worked with a consulting nonprofit to create new bylaws, new structure, new fundraising plans and policies and to refine our mission and vision

Now what? 

Educate: Learn more about veterans, military and families in the Triangle. Attend an event in support, call a local Reserve unit and offer to volunteer, join an organization like Team Red White and Blue. Understanding our military community is the first step in providing support!

Engage: Want to be a part of the support network? Organizations and individuals may sign up to be a part of MVRC.  If you would like to provide financial support for our work, please donate here. 

Empower: Support Veteran Owned Businesses. Find a military neighbor and offer a hand. Write a card to someone deployed. Give to local organizations that support military/veteran empowerment. Together we can go #beyondthethankyou

Support Resources on Grief

Loss is a natural part of life. Whether through death or circumstance, it is healthy to experience grief. Here are some articles to help navigate the process.

Helping Your Child Deal With Death

Overcoming the Loss of a Child Without Drugs or Alcohol: A Parent’s Guide

How Grief Can Make You Sick

Advice for surviving the death of a spouse or partner at a young age

How to Help an Elderly Parent Deal With the Death of a Spouse

How to Avoid Family Conflicts after the Death of a Parent

Coping With the Death of Your Pet

 

Saying Farewell; Micheal Bishop

MVRC was founded by a small group of dedicated and passionate volunteers who saw a need, and opted to create positive change. For many years, our founding members have played a critical role in the development and execution of MVRC’s mission and goals. Their tireless efforts have created the organization we are today, and we are proud to continue their legacy of service. 

Michael Bishop (Founding Member/Military Adviser) is a native North Carolinian from Greensboro. He honorably served in the United States Marine Corps from 1989 to 1994, which included Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He went to GTCC and graduated in 1993. He went on to UNCG where he double majored in History and Religion. Michael joined MVRC when it was first forming as WakeCART at a very low time in his life. He was himself homeless and living in the South Wilmington Street Shelter. After seeing what resources were here in Wake County for Veterans he decided to continue with the group to help other Veterans in need.  Michael now works for the Durham VA Medical Center. Four years ago the VA decided to make ending homeless a top priority, they started a program call Homeless Veterans Supported employment. Michael was one of three hired for this program in Durham. Three years later when the program was set to end throughout the country Durham decided to keep the program and Michael was made a permanent staff member. This program provides services to any Veteran who is in the homeless program find competitive employment in the community.

Michael has been an inspiration and an example for MVRC. Beyond his personal story of success, Michael has been dedicated to assisting veterans, educating the community, raising awareness of need and finding support for those who cannot support themselves. We are grateful that Michael will continue to be involved with MVRC as he transitions off the board; through his advocacy for quality veteran care and through his willingness to continue to be an excellent resource for MVRC’s board members.

“I believe in what MVRC does to my very core, there are  so many times when other groups cannot help right away and for whatever reason the help is needed right then MVRC has been able to help, and that’s what it is all about.”

To wish Michael well, or share a story with us; email contact@mymvrc.org

Saying Farewell; Randy Marsh

MVRC was founded by a small group of dedicated and passionate volunteers who saw a need, and opted to create positive change. For many years, our founding members have played a critical role in the development and execution of MVRC’s mission and goals. Their tireless efforts have created the organization we are today, and we are proud to continue their legacy of service. 

Dr. Randy Marsh (Founding Member/Care Coordinator) is a licensed psychologist with 40 years of experience in the field of Behavioral Health, and a husband of 40 years, with three grown sons and two granddaughters.  Until November 2013, Randy was a 21 year employee of Wake County Human Services, Raleigh, North Carolina, last serving as the Division Director of Behavioral Health Services.  He led three initiatives that won national, state and local awards and recognition.  One of these is the Military and Veterans Resource Coalition.  Randy is presently semi-retired; working part time in a private clinic and offering other psychological services through his own business, Marsh Psychological Services PLLC. While not a veteran, during the Vietnam War he had several friends and acquaintance who died or were physically or emotionally wounded in service.  As a social worker for the VA early in his career, he came to know many more veterans who sacrificed their health and well-being in service to their country.  He came to have deep respect for these individuals along with a sorrow for those whose service came at great cost.  In 2008, when the Director of Wake County Human Services was looking for a volunteer to explore ways for the agency to do more for military families, Randy stepped forward.  From that time,  MVRC has grown into a community partnership of dozens of agencies, businesses, programs and individuals who care about and support our local service members, veterans and their families.

It continues to be Randy’s desire that no individual who served, or their family, should be left unsupported in their own communities, during or after service. In that light, while Randy is stepping away from a formal role with MVRC he will remain in an advisory role for our care coordinator.

Join us in thanking Randy for his service to our community. Share your message here, or email contact@mymvrc.org!

 

Hurricanes and Holidays

In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew unleashed record amounts of rainfall in Central and Eastern North Carolina; leaving many families without access to food, clean water, power or safe shelter. The floodwaters in many areas did not recede for weeks, which made the situation life threatening for many stranded citizens. The community, National Guard, local law enforcement and responders did what they do best; came together to help one another in times of need.

After the initial support began to subside many nonprofits, including MVRC, began to reach out to the community to ensure they continued to receive care as needed. Mr. K, a father and recently separated Reservist was one of those families.

Mr. K’s home was devastated after the hurricane, resulting in a near total loss of all his families belongings. After receiving a small stipend from FEMA support, Mr. K and his children were left living in a hotel for weeks waiting for his home to be deemed safe to enter. When he was finally able to enter his home, he found that many of his personal items had been disposed as hazardous material.

As our military often do, Mr. K set out to repair the damage and restore the belongings in his home. Having met the Board Chair at an event 4 years prior, Mr. K reached out to MVRC as a last hope during the holiday season. His resources were exhausted and he humbly asked our care coordinator for organizations that could support gifts for his children. Because of an incredible last minute donation to MVRC, we were able to secure two sizable gift cards to support Mr. K’s children.

With only 2 days until Christmas Morning, Mr K. told us:

“Once again, on behalf of me and my family;  we thank you, thank you, thank you! Your organization is such a blessing… may God continue to bless you all”.

Our support didn’t stop there:

In 2017, MVRC will be working to connect Mr. K to educational resources; as he would like to go back to school for a specific trade. In addition, our care coordinator is working diligently on investigating additional resources to support the remaining recovery from Hurricane Matthew.

 

 Thank YOU Mr. K; for your service to our nation. 

MVRC ‘Adopt a Veteran’ Holiday Support

After a successful season of donations from our community, MVRC’s board felt compelled to utilize some of our funding to support a local veteran family during the holiday. Following our mission and vision for our organization, we set out to find a veteran family who has been working towards their goals with fervor and could use a hand UP to succeed.

On December 20th, MVRC Board Members were able to support to a Navy Veteran, his wife and 3 children. Coming out of a season of debt while he was in school and providing for his growing family; “Mr. B” (veteran) shows the tenacity and drive that follows our military after their service.

Mr B has a knee and back injury from his time in service and is often in debilitating pain, yet he manages to excel in school, at work and as a spouse and parent. This year, with one semester remaining, Mr. B encountered financial barriers due to a paperwork mix up with Veteran’s Affairs. While working a full time day job in RTP and working two side jobs to help his family succeed, he has had to find the extra time to travel on a continual basis to complete the necessary paperwork for his earned education benefit from Veterans Affairs. Once degreed, he will be able to move up in his career.

Besides the full-time career of raising three young children, Mr. B’s wife is also an excellent example of compassion and love in our community. Mrs. B volunteers her time to support local refugees by helping them learn to navigate the necessary systems for employment, health and success. She helps them learn things like how to navigate the bus system or buy groceries; necessary skills for survival in a new culture. She often brings her own children with her and teaches all the children English.

MVRC is proud to support our military community and even more proud to help empower our veterans after service. Through generous community donations, our board was able to provide over 15 outfits for the oldest child who had grown out of all his clothes. In addition, we gave diapers and wipes for months, additional clothes for the middle and youngest child, educational toys and books and a few special requested “gifts from Santa”. Mrs. B received a nominal gift card to a local restaurant and movie for a adult night out and special bath supplies to pamper herself. Mrs. B requested a nominal gift for her husband’s hobby (which we were able to order) and MVRC also provided him with a gift card for gas to offset his travel expenses to the VA. To top off our donations, we were able to give the family an additional $100.00 in grocery money!

Because our community came together to support this effort, MVRC was able to give this blessing to a local family, at the cost of $500.00 to our organization.

Our work didn’t stop there…

Financial empowerment is a GREAT part of what we do, but solving long term problems and connecting veterans, military and families to needed resources and organizations is what creates LONG TERM SUSTAINABILITY. True to our mission, MVRC was instrumental in assisting Mr. B with resolving his paperwork discrepancy with the VA  by connecting him directly to a Veterans Affairs advocate in our area. At the time of this post, Mr B had contacted the advocate and, together, they had resolved the issue in a short time.

Mr. B proudly stated

“I am proud to be a veteran, and wish I could have continued to serve my country for many years [after my injury]. I am very grateful for organizations like MVRC who continue to highlight and support the local military and families not only with money but with resources. I didn’t know where to look to even start to solve my problem, and MVRC was the first and last connection.  I look forward to paying this forward to others as I am able.”

To learn more about how you can donate to support and empower Triangle Military and Families, click here.

#BeThere for Veterans and Service Members

We can all play a role in preventing suicide and it doesn’t require a grand gesture or complicated task to support the Veteran or Service member in your life who’s going through a difficult time. During Suicide Prevention Month this September, help the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Defense spread the word that preventing suicide starts with this simple act: Be There.

Helping someone feel included and supported can make a big difference during a challenging time. Small actions of support — calling up an old friend, checking in on a neighbor, or inviting a colleague on a walk — are all thoughtful ways to show someone you care. Similarly, encouraging Veterans and Service members to take time for themselves and to focus on their own health and wellness can have a big impact.

Visit VeteransCrisisLine.net/BeThere to download free Suicide Prevention Month materials — including flyers, web badges, social media content, and newsletter articles — and to learn how you and your community can Be There to prevent suicide.

If you notice warning signs in yourself or a Veteran loved one, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat, or text 838255 to get confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

 

MVRC Partner Spotlight: Dress for Success Helps Women Vets Shine in the Business World

For 20 years, Keisha proudly wore her military uniform and excelled in the logistics field. When she left the military, Keisha faced a new and daunting challenge: how to translate her technical skills, experience and leadership to the civilian workforce. She encountered another barrier, too, which was how to select and afford a new professional wardrobe.

Keisha luckily discovered Dress for Success Triangle NC and connected with Katrina Holley, the Veterans Coordinator for Dress for Success. Ms. Holley, an Air Force vet herself, not only secured help for Keisha with a resume update, job search and interview coaching, but provided suiting and image coaching, as well. Dress for Success outfitted Keisha in professional attire that she said gave her the confidence to sail through the interview and land the job. The Dress for Success boutique also provided five more outfits to make the change work.

“That’s a success story that we see repeated over and over,” Holly explains, “and each one is as exciting and rewarding as the last.” For the vets who are moving into a new world, may be suffering from PTSD, or may just lack the confidence to venture out, Dress for Success is making a big difference.”

Dress for Success Triangle serves any under-employed and unemployed women in the area by providing a network of support, professional attire and development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. All ages and skill levels are welcome to the programs at Tillery Place off Capital Blvd. in Raleigh and in Northgate Mall in Durham.

Dress for Success Triangle’s Executive Director Beth Briggs can’t say enough about the thrill of the work DFS is doing for Triangle women. She noted, however, that studies show women vets have a much higher rate of unemployment than male vets. So, for the past two years, DFS has reached out especially to women veterans and military spouses and hired Holley to be the Veteran’s Coordinator. Dress for Success served 122 veterans or spouses in 2015 and has already worked with more than 100 in the first half of 2016.

Briggs gives huge credit for Dress for Success’ accomplishments to volunteers, foundations, corporate sponsors, generous individuals and others who donate money and clothing. One-quarter of Dress for Success Triangle’s income comes from its quarterly inventory sales, which are open to the public.

“We’re planning a major event of new designer items with our upcoming Shop for Success event on September 17, 2016, in Raleigh,” Briggs said, “and at our Northgate facility in Durham the weekend before Thanksgiving. You’ll be able to purchase beautiful clothing for a fraction of the cost, and it all goes back into Dress for Success programs.

“We have beautiful clothes, and we help create beautiful new careers and lives for the women who need us.”

Career development, suiting, leadership, support groups and employment retention are among the ongoing programs that Dress for Success Triangle provides after the initial meetings with women. Briggs says that overall 55%, and probably more, get jobs after coming to Dress for Success. The 10-week job-acquisition “Going Places Network” program boasts a 74% success rate.

The women Dress for Success serves run the gamut: divorced and single mothers in their mid-30s (DFS median age), women who left the workforce to raise families and want to work again, students right out of college, kids coming out of foster care at 18, and increasingly military vets or spouses who served for years and now want new opportunities.

“We have image and career coaches who can work with everyone,” Briggs says.

The nonprofit, run by a small staff and over 350 volunteers, has been in business since 2008. This year, it will serve 2,000 women and is poised to celebrate its 10,000th client soon. It is one of the most successful in the worldwide Dress for Success network of 350 programs.

For further information, call 919-286-2128; email at trianglenc@dfstriangle.org ; and reach Katrina Holley at veterans@dfstriangle.org. Watch the web site www.trianglenc.dressforsuccess.org for details about the big special sale events.  Volunteer. And shop!