One unforgettable part of the 2017 ART + IDS joint conference in Scottsdale, AZ, happening May 18-21, is sure to be the community service project benefitting an organization called U.S.VETS. Attendees will spend an afternoon decorating the U.S.VETS Grand Veterans Village housing facility, a 132-room repurposed hotel that provides permanent and bridge housing to homeless veterans, with furnishings donated by our industry.
Here, Executive Director of the U.S.VETS Phoenix chapter Michelle Jameson tells us more about the organization and what sort of difference this community service project will make to the veterans they serve in Phoenix.
1) How does your organization help veterans, and how many lives do you impact each year?
Michelle Jameson: Annually, U.S.VETS–Phoenix’s on-site bridge/homeless program welcomes over 260 homeless veterans while serving over 94,000 nutritional meals. Our permanent supportive housing programs provide housing to more than 400 homeless veterans and their families at U.S.VETS Grand Avenue and scattered housing sites in the community. Working to prevent homelessness, U.S.VETS provides veterans with funding to pay rent, childcare, moving and other outstanding financial needs. Our two workforce programs provide veterans with the skills, funding and resources to put veterans back to work. Annually, we place over 170 homeless veterans into employment and 86 post-9/11 veterans into STEM careers averaging an annual salary of $40,000.
2) How will the ART + IDS project specifically, decorating rooms, make a difference to your organization and the veterans you help?
MJ: U.S.VETS is a non-profit organization with the mission of “the successful transition of military veterans and their families through the provision of housing, counseling, career development and comprehensive support.” The majority of our veterans are homeless, low-income and/or disabled. U.S.VETS is able to provide basic needs such as towels and bedding, but we do not have the funding to decorate veteran’s rooms. Decorating our veteran’s rooms would provide them with a feeling of a comfortable home and an increased sense of pride. Although our veterans literally have nothing to very little, giving them a room filled with the belongings of a home would show them that they deserve nice things, too. It is difficult to put in words the difference this project will make, but imagine if you were homeless, sleeping on the streets; you would be cold, uncomfortable, hungry and alone. Now imagine moving to a beautifully decorated room that provides you with a rug to comfort your tired feet, a bed for your aching body, a blanket to provide warmth and a soft pillow to rest your head. The difference this project would make is that feeling you just imagined, essentially going from hopeless to hopeful.
3) Why should our industry’s members not miss this chance to work with U.S. VETS?
MJ: Our veterans have served the citizens of the United States of America. Hidden costs of serving can be PTSD, depression, mental and physical health challenges and loneliness, which are often time visible through substance use, isolation, suicide and homelessness. By giving back to the veterans through volunteer work, it shows them that they’re not forgotten.
4) What are you most in need of in terms of decor?
MJ: Bath mats, shower curtains, shower rods, window curtains, curtain rods, pictures, towels, bathroom accessories, under-the-bed storage, single sheets, comforters, pillows, pillow cases, bathroom rugs, outside decorative items, fake flowers, leather/faux couch/chairs, book cases, dressers, mini table and chair sets, a lot of floor lamps, items to decorate 2 public bathrooms, a large game room/TV room and a multipurpose room.
For more information about the Phoenix chapter of U.S. VETS and all the work the organization is doing, follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/usvetsinitiativephoenix
To make a donation to this community project, please contact Executive Director of ART Sharon Davis at [email protected]