By: Kelly Caffarelli, President of The Home Depot Foundation
I’ve heard people say you can do anything for a day, a month, a year. At The Home Depot Foundation, not only can we do anything for two months, we can do a lot! From September 11 through November 11, thousands of our associates worked across the country on volunteer projects benefiting veterans. The grand finale was in St. Louis on Veterans Day, when we had 300 associates repairing, painting and planting at the homes of 28 veterans.
This was our third annual two-month Celebration of Service campaign and we set the bar high for next year with associates volunteering more than 100,000 hours to complete more than 350 projects hitting all 50 states. This year’s projects were supported with a $3 million investment and were particularly meaningful as we focused many projects on improving the homes of two specific groups: women veterans and caregivers.
As shocking as it sounds, 60,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, and the fastest growing group in the homeless population is women veterans, many of whom have children. Most places providing housing assistance are not able to take families, making it difficult for veterans who are mothers to find a safe home for their families. Similarly, there’s a new group of caregivers, who are often young spouses and parents, providing help to some of the 3.5 million veterans living with a service-related disability.
Anything we do to make homes more comfortable and accessible for disabled veterans, probably also makes it easier for the caregivers, who are dedicating themselves to care for veterans every day.
Some examples of the kinds of projects Team Depot, our associate-led volunteer force completed include:
• Making the home of Anna Fields, a 98-year-old WWII veteran and Cincinnati, OH resident, handicapped accessible (with People Working Cooperatively)
• Making the home of Army veteran Jammie Hinson, his wife, Katina (a caregiver and Air Force veteran), and their two children accessible for Jammie (with Rebuilding Together Dallas)
• Renovating and beautifying an outdoor area at a permanent housing facility for veterans and their families in San Francisco (with Swords to Plowshares)
• Remodeling Hello House, a transitional housing facility that serves homeless women veterans in Boston (with Volunteers of America Massachusetts)
While Celebration of Service ended on Veterans Day, our efforts to ensure every veteran has a safe place to call home continue year-round. It’s all part of our $80 million, five-year commitment to address the housing needs of our country’s veterans. We know that Veterans Day is only once a year, but we’ve taken on this work as our way of saying “thank you” to our veterans every day of the year.
To continue following what The Home Depot Foundation is up to as we address veterans’ housing needs and more, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @homedepotfdn or using #TeamDepot and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/homedepotfoundation.