Fighting for Those Who Fought for Us
BY CHRISTINE ROBERE, PRESIDENT AND CEO, UNITED WAY OF THE LAKESHORE
Sometimes, the toughest battle is the unseen one. Currently, 43% of Muskegon County residents struggle to meet their basic needs. One incident could push them over the edge of poverty. In Muskegon County, there are over 12,000 veterans that live in our community. According to statistics that means there are an estimated 5,000 veterans in our community that struggle to meet their basic needs.
United Way of the Lakeshore has recognized the commitment, sacrifice, and love that veterans and active servicemen and women have for our community. That is why, for the last three years, Veterans have been the primary focus for our annual Day of Caring. We know that unfortunately some of our community’s veterans have come back from service to find that, like other hard-working people in our community, they could use a hand with an unexpected expense.
Here are stories from two of our veterans who have faced adversity at home.
“My wife and I are the parents of four beautiful children. I'm a veteran of the Army (Army Ranger) who spent time overseas deployed in Desert Storm, and my wife does everything in her power to help anyone that she can. A little over a year ago I got really sick and spent about 20 hours a day in bed. With me down my wife started playing both roles as mom and dad, provider and homemaker. This put us behind on everything. I am better now, but we have so much to catch up on that it seems impossible with us both working and our children's extracurricular activities. That's basically where we sit today, more work than hours in the day.” – Veteran served for 2019 Day of Caring
“This veteran served in the army for 20 years. He was in the Special Forces and toured in Vietnam, Thailand, and several other countries. This veteran earned a bronze star in Vietnam after repairing an emergency helicopter that was down in the line of fire. While he was repairing the helicopter he was shot twice but was able to complete the mission and help his team get to safety. Once he was healed he signed up for another term in the place of his younger brother who had just started his family. This veteran was exposed to Agent Orange and is now battling melanoma cancer. He and his wife are both disabled and are having trouble with some repairs on their home. This veteran also has neuropathy in his hands and feet.” – Veteran served for 2018 Day of Caring
So far, 44 veteran homes have been transformed in our community as a direct result of United Way volunteers. To see a project in action, watch these videos.
In honor of Military Service Appreciation Month, United Way of the Lakeshore has several ideas and options to serve our servicemen and women that include:
• Working with your local VFW and American Legion
• Cleaning memorial plaques at your local cemetery
• Hosting a community clean up at Veterans Memorial Park
• Writing cards to veterans, recruits and active military personnel through United Way of the Lakeshore’s Operation Gratitude Project
• Creating flat bears through the Hugs Project
• Submitting a Veteran’s history to the Library of Congress through the Veteran History Project.
You can find more information about these projects here on the United Way of the Lakeshore website.
Want Other Ways To Get Involved This November? United Way of the Lakeshore will be hosting a Coat and Hat Drive, November 10 through December 10. You can free up closet space in your home while helping community members stay warm this winter by donating your gently used or new coats! Donations will be provided to local United Way partners that assist individuals and families facing adversity.
We are looking for companies and small businesses to host collection boxes across Muskegon, Newaygo and Oceana County! If your workplace would like to host a box, or if you would like to find out where winter apparel can be donated please go to our website here.
Remember to check into the GetConnected Online Volunteer Calendar to find other great volunteer opportunities!
United Way of the Lakeshore is uniting to inspire change and build thriving communities. Our Bold Goal – 10,000 more working families meet their basic needs by 2025. For more information, contact United Way of the Lakeshore at (231) 722-3134. Learn more about United Way of the Lakeshore at UnitedWayLakeshore.org, like the organization on Facebook and receive up to date information from Twitter at twitter.com/uwlakeshore.