SARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – In 2015, in response to the growing needs of the homeless veteran community, Goodwill’s Veterans Services Program expanded to include three facets: the Veterans and Their Families Program (VFP), the Special Emergency Resources for Veterans (SERV) Fund, and the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP). The focus of the latter program is solely homeless veterans and is funded directly through grants from the U.S. Department of Labor. These funds allow Goodwill Manasota to make a positive and lasting impact on our local homeless veterans and their families.
“Since our Veterans Services Program launched in 2013, we have served more than 1,200 veterans,” said Bob Rosinsky, Goodwill Manasota president and CEO. “As we have observed and evaluated our efforts, we have recognized the growing need for assistance for the homeless veterans in our community. With the partnership of local individuals and organizations, and the financial support from the U.S. Department of Labor, we are proud to work to ensure we can meet the needs of all veterans in our service area.”
Goodwill received the grant from the Department of Labor to fund the HVRP last year, and has been awarded a second year grant. This grant, which is helping Goodwill to expand already existing programs, is a pay for performance grant, meaning funding is dependent on successful outcomes, and allows Goodwill to draw down financing of up to $300,000. The focus of this grant is to find stable employment for more than 100 homeless veterans.
One of the success stories includes Bienvenido Rafael Acosta, Jr., a veteran who achieved the rank of Specialist in the United States Army, serving from 1987-2004. Acosta was a client of the Salvation Army’s veterans program, residing at the Bradenton Men’s Lodge. Seeking some guidance, he became involved with Goodwill’s Veterans Services Program as well as other agencies serving veterans in the community. Goodwill helped him reinstate his CDL license and, in February, he was hired by Goodwill Manasota as a driver in the Transportation Department. When there was an opening for an industry certified forklift truck operator at Goodwill, Acosta was able to take the forklift training course at Manatee Technical College, thanks to the grant funds available through the HVRP, and received his certification in April. Acosta is committed to being a positive role model for his son and is grateful to Goodwill for giving him a chance.
“All too often, we find that many veterans returning from combat experience challenges in finding jobs or gaining access to services, and many return with no secured housing,” said C.J. Bannister, director of the Veterans Services Program. “We believe that our veterans deserve more – they deserve access to services they have earned, employment and housing. This grant is assisting people with critical needs and serving as a meaningful way to thank veterans for their service."
About Goodwill Manasota
Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With the sales of donated goods and philanthropic donations, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities and other barriers to employment by providing job skills training and employment opportunities. In 2015, Goodwill Manasota served 22,739 people, placed 961 people in jobs and assisted 358 veterans as they reintegrated back into the civilian workforce. Goodwill Manasota’s economic impact back to the community is worth $81.3 million. Goodwill is one of the pioneers of the reduce-reuse-recycle movement and this past year diverted 41 million pounds out of the landfill. We accomplish our mission through a network of Good Neighbor Centers in Sarasota, Manatee, Hardee and DeSoto counties and our Mission Development Services (MDS) around North America. Goodwill Manasota is accountable to a local Board of Directors. Goodwill Manasota in essence belongs to this community, and is not owned by any individual or company. For more information, visit www.experiencegoodwill.org.