Veterans Month and National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week mark the conclusion of a three-month collection drive organized by VA’s Office of Acquisition, Logistics, and Construction (OALC) to support our nation’s Veterans. OALC collected donations from Aug. 12 – Nov. 12 for the Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC) of the Washington DC VA Medical Center (DC VAMC) to help Veterans in the metropolitan area who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
OALC’s collection drive is a follow-up to a smaller Veterans service project undertaken in 2017 by one of OALC’s sections, the Procurement Policy and Warrant Management Service (PPS). The 2017 collection drive was led by members of the PPS holiday planning committee following a tour of the CRRC. During the tour, committee members learned about the diverse services the facility offers to homeless Veterans, such as a computer lab, social work services, laundry and shower rooms, and a host of community resources.
No Better Place
The CRRC is the first facility of its kind in the Washington, D.C. area that is open seven days a week and 24 hours a day. It’s one of 31 VA CRRCs across the nation and serves approximately 70 Veterans per day — nearly 500 per week. The PPS holiday committee members decided there was no better place to help Veterans.
“A day after PPS’s “Holiday Party with a Purpose,” we delivered several bags filled with donated items to the CRRC,” said Barbara Matos, then a PPS Program Analyst and now executive assistant at the Office of Procurement Policy, Systems, and Oversight at VA. “Items included new thermal underwear, socks, personal hygiene items, tins of holiday cookies, a variety of nonperishable foods, and cases of water.”
For this year’s larger collection drive, the CRRC provided a wish list of items that Veterans need most.
The list included nonperishable foods, kitchen items, toiletries, personal hygiene items, men’s and women’s clothing, school supplies, and holiday gifts for the Veterans’ children. Matos, the 2019 OALC-VA CRRC Collection Event lead coordinator, said she was inspired to put her long-dormant craft skills to work, hand-knitting and crocheting 15 hats and scarves, and packaging each with a note that reads “Handmade for a Veteran with Thanks on Veterans Day and Every Day for Your Service to Our Nation!”
A total of 2,100 items were donated at seven collection stations located at 810 Vermont Avenue, NW, and 425 I Street, NW, in Washington, D.C. In addition to assisting Veterans, the project also helped involve VA staff who don’t frequently interact with Veterans an appreciation for the challenges that homeless Veterans face.
Karen Brazell, OALC Principal Executive Director and VA Chief Acquisition Officer, was heartened by the generosity of the donors and said that, “This drive showed the VA’s I-CARE values of Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence at work.” Matos echoed her sentiments, further stating that, “It is a privilege to be of service to those who sacrificed so much for our great nation.”
OALC’s Office of Logistics Policy and Supply Chain Management, Operations Analysis Division (OAD), in Hines, IL, held a collection event for the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center’s CRRC September 16 through October 18. “I believe getting behind the initiatives that are important to our organization and its leadership, helps to show our solidarity and support for our Veterans,” said Susette Davis, OAD Lead Management Analyst and CRRC Collection Coordinator for the Hines, Ill., event.
Brazell and her team have challenged all VA organizations to undertake similar drives for homeless Veterans in their communities and strive to exceed the amount that OALC collected this year.
Organizations interested in accepting OALC’s donation drive challenge can email the VA Homeless Programs Office at HomelessVets@va.gov for help getting started.
Barbara Matos is an executive assistant in VA’s Office of Procurement Policy Systems and Oversight.
- Visit the Washington DC VA Medical Center, Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC) website to learn more about its services and programs.
- Refer Veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless to their local VA medical center, where VA employees are ready to assist, or urge them to call 877-4AID-VET (877-424-3838).
- Visit VA’s Homeless Veterans website to learn about employment initiatives and other programs for Veterans exiting homelessness.