I am very excited to announce that Joe Hack and I will be representing the KC BANCS STEM Scholars in our second annual SOCK DRIVE, which benefits the 2012 Heart of America Stand Down for Homeless Veterans.
Joe Hack is a Naval Veteran and former crew member of the USS Blue Ridge - flagship of the US Seventh Fleet. Joe is currently enrolled in the Stationary Engineering program at the Metropolitan Community College – Business and Technology Campus, and a member of Phi Theta Kappa. I am an Army Veteran – Air Assault, and a life member of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV). I just completed a degree in Stationary Engineering at the Metropolitan Community College - Business and Technology Campus, and I am also a member of Phi Theta Kappa.
This year we are teaming up with our friends at the UMKC Student Veterans Organization. Jamison Ryan, SVO President and our very own Transition Navigator here at KC BANCS, will be coordinating his troops and leading the “SOCK DRIVE” attack at UMKC. Jamison is a Naval Veteran - with two deployments to his credit. He is currently majoring in Biology with an emphasis in Pre-Medicine at UMKC.
Last year we collected nearly 300 pairs of socks in our first annual KC Bancs SOCK DRIVE. This year, Joe and I are stepping up the pace, and answering the call of duty, by taking our Sock Drive to the streets. Our first appearance will be at the Blue Springs Wal-Mart on Friday, May 11th.
There are approximately 2,500 homeless veterans in the Kansas City area alone. The Heart of America Stand Down is a semi-annual event that assists these individuals with medical needs, employment, clothing, a warm meal, and so much more. Many of these men and women are homeless due to the economic downturn and simply have nowhere to go. Others suffer from acute or chronic psychological and medical disabilities. The most alarming group however is the ever increasing number of homeless female veterans.
Between 2006 and 2010, the number of homeless female veterans more than doubled. Not only do they suffer from lack of food and shelter but these women, many who have just returned from Iran and Afghanistan, are continuously subjected to attacks of violence and abuse. Several of these homeless female veterans also have children, which presents another problem. Over 60% of the V.A’s. Grant and Per Diem Programs, which finances agencies that help homeless veterans, do not accept children. Furthermore, the Veterans Department doesn’t even track female veterans or their children. Approximately two thirds of all homeless female veterans are between the ages of 40 and 59, and over one third are disabled. Many times help comes painstakingly slow for these forgotten female heroes and their children, while other times it simply doesn’t come at all.
Operation Stand Down, a military term meaning to pause, rest, and regroup, is a rare opportunity for these men and women to safely come in and receive assistance and fellowship from several area businesses and service organizations. Our motto is, “Give a hand up, not a hand out”. We operate entirely with a volunteer staff and ALL of our donations go toward helping veterans in need.
As KC BANCS STEM Scholars, our primary objective is to increase the number of students prepared to enter STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) careers in the Kansas City area. We accomplish this mission by mentoring returning veterans. This program is made possible by the gracious funding from The National Science Foundation, and the professional management of the University of Missouri in Kansas City’s Institute of Human Development. Through our efforts, the NSF and UMKC continue to strengthen the future of America.
Fellow STEM Scholar and veteran, Joe Hack and I take this responsibility very seriously, and we are extremely proud to represent KC BANCS at the 2012 Heart of America Stand Down. We urge all of you to help us by collecting donations for our homeless veterans. Please bring packages of socks to our office at 215 W Pershing. Also, please make all monetary donations in the form of a check or money order payable to: UMKC Student Veterans Organization – and make sure to write “Homeless Vets” in the memo. Arden Day will be in charge of collecting donations at our office. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 816.235.6382.
Sincerely, James “Christopher” VanDolah