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Suffolk supports veterans in month-long donation drive

November 20, 2019

Suffolk University’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE) came together during this Veterans’ Day and Homelessness Awareness Month to help support local veterans. 

To do so, Suffolk students held a week-long donation drive for the New England Center and Home for Veterans (NECHV) at the Veterans Services Center in the Frank Sawyer Building. From Nov. 7 to Nov. 14, they successfully collected a variety of items to contribute to the center. 

In an interview with Cortney Holmes, the administrative coordinator of CCE, she said that when meeting with Suffolk’s Queer Student Union, they decided to incorporate veterans into their programming plan for Homelessness Awareness Month, in addition to the donation drive the organizations hold every November for the Suffolk Cares Pantry.

“We wanted to do something specifically for the veteran population,” said Holmes. “I went to talk to Alex Patterson, who is the coordinator for Veterans Services here at Suffolk, and we decided that doing a donation drive for the New England Center and Home for Veterans would be the best fit seeing that we just bought the 1 Court St. building for the resident halls. It’s right next to the [NECHV.] And our office already does a lot of work– different service projects for students with the [NECHV] so it just felt like a natural fit to pick them.” 

After returning home from war or long deployments to ensure American’s protection and freedom, some veterans have difficulty adjusting back to civilian life. Many are left unemployed, in poverty or homeless.

According to the Housing Assistance Project, 853 veterans are homeless in Massachusetts alone. More than 67,600 Massachusetts veterans live in homes that are overcrowded, are too expensive or are of poor quality. The unemployment rate for Massachusetts veterans is 7.3%, and 6.2% of veterans in Massachusetts live in poverty. 

The NECHV has supported former military servicemen and women who are facing homelessness and poverty in Boston since 1989. The mission of the center is “to equip Veterans who are facing or at-risk of homelessness with the tools for economic self-sufficiency and to provide them a path to achieve successful and dignified independent living,” according to the organization’s website.

 This organization provides services and care for individuals who have served in the military, offering a variety of programs and services to ensure veteran success, by helping find secure housing and steady employment. Just in December 2017, NECHV constructed 37 new efficiency apartments, along with renovating service space to serve veterans long-term.

This donation drive is important to students involved with CCE, as it is a way to show their appreciation for the veterans within their community, including the veterans that are currently studying at Suffolk. 

“Our community goes outside the walls at Suffolk University. It is Boston. The New England Center and Home for Veterans is just one example of an organization that is part of our community,” said Holmes. “It is important for Suffolk students to consider other communities that make part of our larger community and see how they can give back; Especially to someone who is going to be our next door neighbor.”

During the cold winter months, life becomes even more difficult for the homeless and impoverished veterans.. To help ease their burdens during this time, CCE collected non perishable food items, winter hats and gloves, socks, winter clothing, towels and personal hygiene items for them in a donation drive for NECHV. 

Suffolk University’s Veterans Services also help veterans succeed at Suffolk after they returning home from serving, through the Veterans Upward Bound Program at Suffolk and their participation in the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program, according to Suffolk’s website

The Veterans Upward Bound Program provides veterans with schooling that they can utilize before college in order to develop academic and personal skills in preparation for higher education. In choosing to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, Suffolk offers qualified veterans tuition assistance of up to $25,000 per academic year. 

 

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