INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – It’s estimated that around 33% of the homeless population are veterans. The same people who serve and protect sometimes end up in need of service and protection themselves.
Helping Veterans and Families (HVAF) was founded in 1993 to help meet that need. The organization takes a holistic approach to helping homeless and at-risk service members regroup, relearn and reimagine their lives.
“We get a lot of walk-in business, a lot of word of mouth out there in the homeless community,” said Brian Copes, CEO of HVAF. “Word gets around that we will take care of veterans, we’re a good place to go.”
The organization assigns caseworkers to every veteran in need, helping them navigate whatever obstacle they’re facing. HVAF provides housing, clothing, personal care items and even food.
Volunteers help keep HVAF running, and, in early June, those volunteers happened to be WISH-TV employees. Teams of employees spent a day organizing the pantry and rehabbing apartments. What the HVAF team did not know was that at the end of the day, our work was not quite finished. A quick interview request turned into a WISH Patrol surprise.
WISH-TV employees donated piles of clothing, canned goods and other items.
The Salvation Army donated $4,000 worth of clothing vouchers, along with additional vouchers to be used for furniture.
“We hope this is just the beginning of a long relationship because we appreciate your organization’s help with the veterans and their families and all that they’ve done for our country,” said Maj. Troy Barker of The Salvation Army.
Long’s Mattress donated 10 sets of bedding.
“I’ve got a bunch of family who has served and I really have a heartfelt passion for the place that veterans find themselves in. You guys are doing a great job,” said Doug Petroskey, owner of Long’s Mattress.
The HVAF team was overwhelmed by the WISH Patrol surprise.
“That’s 10 more veterans that you are giving more than just hope to. You are helping them get back on their feet. They are able to get their lives back together,” said Audrey Hopkins Long, HVAF’s volunteer coordinator. “It’s their families, their livelihood, it’s their pride, it’s dignity … it’s just knowing that they have a community that cares. They will take that with them forever, and we are incredibly grateful.”