SARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – This year, Noah Hoopingarner had much to be thankful for during Thanksgiving. The honorably discharged United States Marine Corps Reserve combat veteran, who served from 2001-2007 and went active duty during both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, has been through some difficult times over the past year but, thanks to Goodwill and a handful of other area organizations and businesses, is now on the road to economic stability.
Hoopingarner, his girlfriend and their four children have recently been homeless and have experienced food insecurity. This summer, he sought help from Goodwill Manasota's Veterans Services Program. The young man has been described by those who have worked with him as a dedicated and motivated young veteran who just needed some extra help so that he and his family – which was living in a cramped, 1980s-style RV – could get back on their feet.
As of mid-November, thanks to Goodwill’s Veterans Services Program and its partners, Hoopingarner and his family is finally in a home of their own and he is working full time for Cool Today, an air conditioning, heating and plumbing company that has served the area since 1963. Since reaching out to Goodwill's veterans program this summer, Hoopingarner has received help from the following:
- Bill Bowen from the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S.) Post 8118 helped the family with the rent for a spot at an RV park in Venice, prior to having to move north to another park. Bowen and the VFW also contributed $500 to Goodwill's SERV (Special Emergency Resources for Veterans) program to help furnish their new home.
- Jaime DiDomenico of Cool Today hired Hoopingarner and also loaned him nearly $500 to help the family with the first month's rent for their new home.
- 92.1 CTQ radio personality Maverick Johnson and his organization, the Denis V. Cooper Foundation - Wishes for Heroes, were able to secure a brand new dining room set and living room for the family through John Interian and Will Sparkman of Capris Furniture Industries of Ocala as well as John Matter and Matter Brothers Furniture, who will facilitate delivery of the furniture.
- Elva Hernandez and Brian Saum of Jewish Family & Children's Service helped Hoopingarner with the security deposit for his new home and his utilities. They also purchased the beds needed by the family for the home.
- All Faiths Food Bank has been crucial in providing the family with food; Hoopingarner now goes to All Faiths every Tuesday to obtain food on the distribution day for veterans.
- Finally, staff members from HUD-VASH (the Department of Housing and Urban Development - Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) did everything in their power to get Hoopingarner into a home. He was denied twice through HUD-VASH but several representatives there decided that "no" was not an option and finally got Hoopingarner into a home in North Port that he could afford.
“The mission of the Denis V. Cooper Foundation - Wishes for Heroes is to honor our brave military veterans who have returned home, as well as those who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, by granting a wish. Often these wishes fulfill a desire for a better quality of life, as was the case with Noah and his family,” said Maverick, who founded the nonprofit. “We are proud to partner with Goodwill to honor the goals and desires of our brave military service members and their families, and grant Noah’s wish so that he and his family could have a real home, just in time for the holidays.”
“Our dedicated Veterans Services Program staff works hard each and every day to make sure our veterans get the help they need to get back on their feet and be able to provide for their families,” said Goodwill Manasota president and CEO Bob Rosinsky. “We are grateful to the many community partners who have helped Noah and his family to find a home and a job, and to get on the path to self-sufficiency.”
Through the Veterans Services Program, Goodwill Manasota works to help returning servicemen and women reintegrate back into their families, communities and jobs. In its three years of operation, the program has connected more than 1,500 veterans with necessary social services, provided emotional and physical support, offered free employment services, and distributed funds for emergency needs through its SERV program. For more information, go to experiencegoodwill.org/impact/veteransservices or call (941) 355-2721, ext. 451.
PHOTO ID: (From l-r) Brian Saum of JFCS, Bryant Ray of Cool Today, Noah, Tatiyona and Nalanie Hoppingarner, C.J. Bannister, the director of Goodwill Manasota’s Veterans Services Department, Maverick Johnson of the Denis V. Cooper Foundation – Wishes for Heroes, and Will Sparkman and John Interian of Capris Furniture
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.