Team Savannah for Veterans
Veteran Homelessness Prevention
The team continues to assist more and more Veterans that are facing homelessness. These individuals have been faced with these situations due to loss of jobs, divorce, medical bills, accidents, and many more reasons. The team and board reviews each assistance request individually, to ensure we understand each Veteran's specific needs. Whether we assisted the Veteran by paying for past due bills or providing them with temporary housing, we ensure that these Veterans are not living on the streets. During the assistance we setup goals for the Veterans to achieve, ensuring that they are not putting themselves back into the same position again.
Emergency Relief Fund
Team Savannah has helped numerous Veterans with immediate assistance requests. These direct requests are for items that may have just expanded outside of the veteran's control, and it's our goal to assist that veteran in regaining control. Many individuals know that issues will begin to "snowball" unless immediately addressed once something becomes out of control. So far, we have helped veterans obtain groceries, tow a vehicle to get repaired, and most importantly, placing veterans in temporary housing until they can maintain their housing situation. This fund is a continual program that assists veterans through temporary struggles.
Charlie's House Fire
Vietnam Marine Veteran Charlie, and his girlfriend, lost their home due to a house fire. In this house fire, Charlie remained only with what he was wearing and the American Flag that a fireman saved. He is currently living with his paralyzed son. Unfortunately, Charlie was on hard times and did not have an insurance policy to include losing all his savings in the house. We gathered clothes and other essential items for them to meet their immediate needs.
While raising money to get Charlie another home, his bond between him and his paralyzed son grew more potent than ever. One day, Charlie approached us when we showed him a potential home and stated that he did not want to move into his own home, that he was happy with his son. At that point, our project changed. Immediately we asked what he needed for the family that he was currently in because we had already raised money for him. That is when we found out that their HVAC system was inoperative. With the soon to be cold weather coming, we immediately acted and was able to get the HVAC system and ducting replaced in their home.
Our next step was to replace the back porch and ramp for Charlie's home. This porch had been up for over 20 years, and with his son being paralyzed, it is important to ensure that the porch remains usable. We completed the porch and ramp build and had a barbeque to help feed our team members, Charlie and family.
Aksel is an older veteran that was dealing with some medical issues. A man that has went through 2 types of cancer for a total of three times, he still had many other issues. One of which is was his knee. He was wearing a brace so that his knee would not move out of place. Not knowing much about the VA and what they had to offer, Aksel was only receiving less than 20% disability. Even though the disability was not our primary focus, we insisted that Aksel get reevaluated to help increase his percentage and get the medical assistance he needs.
To make things easier for Aksel, we helped him with the access to his home. Prior to us getting to the house, they had a small ramp going into their home. This ramp was approximately 6' in length with an 11" rise. Per ADA requirements, that ramp was almost double the incline it should be. Since he was having a hard time going up the ramp with no sturdy handrail, Team Savannah went there and built an ADA compliant ramp to make it easier for him.
Operation Hurricane Relief
Local Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran and her family was faced with safety issues when hurricane Dorian was causing a large amount of destruction in the Bahamas. Like any veteran, they are going to be concerned about the well being of their family, so they decided that they needed to evacuate from the area. Unfortunately, when they did, they fell behind on some bills. With making just enough to survive when working their normal schedules, missing time from work caused them to lose money to pay their bills. Add on the cost to evacuate, it was inevitable that they could fall behind on their bills. Contacting us with just $1 in her account, she was just asking for us to get her some groceries. Sticking with our idea of giving a hand up rather than giving everything, we decided to assist with two weeks of groceries. After a month, we checked in on her and found out some great news. She has started a new job with the local Sheriff's office and although they are still living tight, they are slowly getting themselves back to where they need to be.
Operation Homeward Bound
Chris and his two daughters came to Georgia to get started in the local area. With his wife living in Kansas, unable to travel due to pregnancy, he took on a lot of stress by trying to find a place to live while taking care of his daughters. After dealing with a situation with his family, they found themselves living in a hotel. Unfortunately, Chris was only living off of 50% disability. Out of money, he reached out to us, asking for our assistance in paying for the hotel until he could pay for an Amtrak ticket back to Kansas. After a lengthy discussion, we determined it to be a better situation if we went ahead and sent him back to Kansas. We not only purchased the Amtrak ticket, but we sent him and his daughters off with enough money to eat along the way and some money to start off with in Kansas. Up until the day we sent them on their way to Kansas, we had Bubba's Bistro, The Local on 17, and Fia Rua Irish Pub donate lunches/dinners for them to ensure they were able to eat. Our Executive Director also took them, on the day of departure, around Savannah so that they could see the sites.
Carl spent his time in the military as a Ranger in the 5th Ranger Battalion during World War II. Now, as a 96 year old veteran, did what he could to take care of his property. Unfortunately, with this Georgia weather, managing his own property was difficult. After receiving the call about this veteran, we learned that Carl was unable to weedeat and trim the bushes. After years of neglect, the weeds grew up, the bushes grew out, and the property needed an intense makeover. Members from Team Savannah and other local veterans traveled to Jesup to give the much needed makeover to the property. We learned at the end of the project that the local VFW was going to manage someone to come out and help with the upkeep as well as come out to grind the remaining stumps out of the way.
Seeing this 96 year old man and how happy he was to have his brothers and sisters in arms, was truly inspiring. It was great to be able to talk with him and help him.
A local news station manager reached out to us pertaining to a local veteran that was in need. Him and his wife had lost their apartment and had moved into a hotel room. With it being right before St. Patrick's Day in Savannah, the hotel stated that they needed the hotel room since they had already booked it prior to them coming in. The veteran's wife is on dialysis and her disability payment was not sufficient in paying the bills. Immediately we met with the Veteran and his wife to get more details to what their situation was. They did find an extended stay to live in, so the team stepped up and helped pay for their stay there. We had also given them a $100 gift card to a local grocery store.
We supported their stay at the extended stay for seven weeks in order for them to save enough money to find a more permanent place to stay.
Gerald's New Home
Gerald, a veteran that works for Home Depot, had been working on building a new home since 1997. In 2017, Team Savannah found out that Home Depot was looking for a non-profit that could pick up the project. Unfortunately, we did not have our official 501C3 status at the time, so CVMA 25-2 picked up the project. In January of 2018, we were asked to support the CVMA in cleaning up the old house so that it could removed from the land and the new house could be officially occupied. After about 8 hours worth of work and a 30 yard dumpster full, the old home was ready to be removed from the property so that Gerald can live in his house that he worked so hard to build.
Midway Veteran Home Cleanup
Team Savannah teamed up with Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association 25-2 again to help a local Vietnam veteran living in Midway. This veteran had been dealing with multiple medical issues, making it very difficult for him to do anything, especially yard work. With our help and other local organizations, we were able to clear the extremely over-grown yard and provide him with a new porch to relax on in a matter of a few hours. Through this event, the veteran was able to avoid a $1,000 fine that the city was attempting to put on him.
Home Repairs for Pete
Team Savannah received word about Mr. Pete and his living conditions. Our initial discussions were to go in and repair his home. When we visited the home, those discussions changed fairly quickly. Having holes in the ceiling, holes in the floor, electricity only in the kitchen, no appliances, and black mold throughout the entire home. After further discussion, a good friend of Pete's decided that Pete could live with him while we worked to get him another home. Immediately, we stepped in to remove essential items from the home and then we removed the mobile home from the property. During the time that we were raising funds, Pete's battle with cancer become very difficult. Unfortunately, Pete's battle with cancer ended on December 24th, 2018.
Multiple volunteers came out to Fred's house to help him clean the property up. Due to having multiple surgeries on his spine, still recovering from the most recent surgery, we gathered to help Fred get the stuff he could not get during his recovery. Members cleaned up garden beds, trimmed trees, bushes, weed-eated, and helped organize heavy items. We moved heavy objects blocking some of the access to provide an exact route into the shed.
Veteran Home Flooding Assistance
A local Savannah area veteran experienced an issue with his house which caused major flooding inside of his house. This man is one that will devote all of his time to helping others and during this time of need, Team Savannah came together to help him go through items that were water damaged or items that he wanted to get rid of. To further assist him, we took these items to a no cost dump rather than him paying to have of them disposed of for him.
Tiny Homes for the Homeless
A local, Savannah organization has been working towards getting tiny homes in the area for the homeless. Some of these Tiny Home camps will be used strictly for veterans. Team Savannah assisted this organization by cleaning up the remaining camps so that the property can be leveled and the new tiny homes can be built. This was a very difficult situation for our members to see, but we understand that we had to do this so that our veterans can have an acceptable place to stay.
Lincoln Memorial Cemetery
Members of Team Savannah were informed about the conditions of the cemetery on Hunter Army Airfield. Our members went out in the extreme heat and assisted in the cleanup process. For such a large area, a large number of volunteers were needed. Although there are civilians buried at this location, our primary purpose was to ensure all the Veterans have a beautiful resting place.
Multiple veterans have moved into the local area or have moved out of the local area. Regardless of the situation, if Team Savannah knows that the individual needs assistance, we will and have provided the man power needed to get these veterans moved in. The assistance provided allows the veteran to get moved in faster and with more ease. One particular situation, the veteran had a bad back, which prevented him from lifting heavy items. That's where we stepped in to assist this veteran, and prevent him from further injury.
Kidney for Zach
This yard sale held on February 14th and 15th at The Furniture Parlor in Richmond Hill. We took anything that had the potential to be sold from anyone willing to donate. We took these items and tried to sell them to anyone that wanted to purchase them and use that money towards the transplant of Zachary Pritchett's Kidney. Any items that did not sell, we took them directly to homeless veterans or other needing organizations. We were able to raise $1600 to be given directly to the Pritchett family. Funds were presented February 21st at the CVMA's Blackjack Run for Zachary.
Operation Restore Old Glory
Team Savannah for Veterans teamed up with the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, Low Country Mud Rats, Oath Keepers, Perna Construction, and Guerry Lumber to get William and Ruby a new flag pole. William, a WWII and Korean war Veteran, told us that they were unable to put up a new flag after their old flag fell. This couple enjoys going outside and sitting on their porch. So we took the initiative and were able to get a flag pole, concrete, and the flag donated. We went out there and poured a new foundation and placed the flag the next day with all the other organizations' assistance.
Veteran Pinning Ceremonies
In the light of the Coronavirus, A team member brought attention to us about Veterans in hospice care. If these Veteran patients could have direct contact with their family and friends, it was minimal. For Veteran's Day, we teamed up with multiple motorcycle organizations to conduct a ride to two different hospices. Both hospices had patients outside of the facility to see all the motorcycles ride by. All Veteran patients at the first facility were able to be pinned by the Team Savannah for Veterans president. Unfortunately, due to a last-minute change of plans at the second facility, we provided the faculty with pins to present to the Veterans. With the staff's communication, we feel that we were able to boost the morale of the veterans in these facilities.
This event has brought ideas to the Team Savannah crew to do this more in the future. It is our goal to make these individuals happy and bring a smile to their face. These Veterans may feel that the Veteran community has forgotten them; however, we are here to remind them that they are not forgotten.
Starting in 2018, Team Savannah has adopted families for Christmas. The idea behind these projects is to provide families with the ability to give gifts to their children without having to struggle to do so. Some veterans already have a hard time to pay for their bills on any normal day, but then Christmas comes around, they may feel that they should pass on paying bills to purchase gifts for their children. Even worse, some children may go without a Christmas. To help support these families, we have adopted them for Christmas. The team gathers a list of gifts from the families and purchases these items. Prior to Christmas, we meet with them and provide them the gifts to provide them to their children.
Multiple Ruck Marches
Team Savannah once participated in ruck marches to help raise awareness for veteran suicides. We have traveled many miles in our rucks. We have traveled around downtown, from downtown to Richmond Hill, Richmond Hill to Harley Davidson and back, and even from the Florida State Line all the way up to Downtown Savannah via highway 17. The ruck from Florida state line to River street Savannah was a total of 122 miles, starting Friday night and ended Sunday night.