The Salvation Army Emergency Shelter in Petersburg is participating in the “100 Day Challenge”, a campaign to house homeless veterans, which began August 3, and will conclude on November 10, one day before Veteran’s Day.
Prior to the challenge, The Salvation Army Emergency Men’s Shelter (835 Commerce St., Petersburg, VA) was already serving a steady stream of homeless veterans. On a given night as many as 25% of shelter residents are veterans. In the shelter men receive meals, case management, referrals to other programs and fellowship.
“The ‘100 day Challenge’ puts the spotlight on one of the most vulnerable populations in the Tri-Cities, our homeless veterans,” said Jewel Farrar, Shelter Manager for The Salvation Army in Petersburg. “When men come through The Salvation Army shelter, we’re able offer them a stable environment and empowering employment and education preparation courses, business and life skills programs that help break the cycle of homelessness and prevent relapse. And this challenge is a great spark for collaboration with other agencies to serve the men who have served us.”
Since January 1, 2014, The Salvation Army Emergency Shelter has provided 450 men, 113 of them veterans, with resources connected to the shelter such as assistance with substance abuse, direct financial assistance, assistance with mental illness & treatment for stability, and collaboration with other local agencies assisting with employment and stable housing.
“A lot of soldiers aren’t equipped for civilian live when leaving the military,” said Charles Kelley, a U.S. Army veteran with more than 10 years of service who has received assistance from The Salvation Army. “These programs are beneficial to a lot of people. If The Salvation Army didn’t help me, I’d be in a pretty rough situation.”
The “100 Day Challenge” is part of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s initiatives for Virginia to be the first state to reach the federal goal of ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.
“We must renew our commitment to better serve our veterans in every community across the Commonwealth,” said Governor McAuliffe in a news release about the campaign. “Our labors on their behalf pale compared to the sacrifices these men and women have made in service to our country.”
Leading up the challenge, the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (VDVS) and the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness (VCEH), hosted a Veteran Housing Boot Camp on July 31 at the Petersburg Public Library. The Boot Camp gave Salvation Army staff and volunteers the opportunity to reevaluate their process for serving veterans and collaborate other service providers on the spot.
During the 100 Day Challenge, Crater District services providers have committed to reaching 75 homeless veterans and successfully housing 40 of them.