On Apr 9-11, the military invaded Spangler Lawn. No – this was not a coup attempt or an opportunity for HBS Veterans to relive their military days. Rather, the Armed Forces Club mobilized in support of the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans (NESHV) by manning a tent for 48 straight hours.
The HBS AFAA sponsored the annual “Tent Drive” to raise awareness and funds for the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans. The NESHV was established in 1990 and has helped more than 15,000 veterans achieve the organizational mission – “to rehabilitate and reintegrate homeless, unemployed and under-employed veterans by providing them with the tools they need to move toward ‘self-sufficiency.'”
The AFAA became involved in this organization several years ago and was astounded by the statistic that one-third of the adult, male homeless population is veterans. Furthermore, the Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that more than 275,000 veterans are homeless on any given night and that more than 500,000 experience homelessness over the course of a year.
According to NESHV, the reason why so many veterans find themselves homeless involves complex factors including job layoffs, substance abuse, an extreme shortage of affordable housing, lack of access to health care, and a large number of displaced and at-risk veterans live with lingering effects of combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The organization helps homeless men and women veterans address the challenges of unemployment, trauma, addiction, and/or severe mental illness. NEHSV is not simply a shelter; rather, the organization focuses on and demands lifestyle changes. Homeless veterans must commit themselves to sobriety, non-violence, and working for personal change.
Joe Ewers, a 2007 HBS graduate, interned at the shelter in 2006.
“I imagined a stereotypical soup kitchen, the epitome of a societal hand out. I was surprised to find that, although the shelter serves more than 220,000 individual meals annually, they are anything but a soup kitchen,” Ewers explained. “They are a highly professional organization that resembles a military barracks more than a homeless shelter. Not only is this a massive operations on all counts – from real estate to annual budget – it is also very effectively managed by a talented and qualified staff, who both demand and inspire a sense of pride and potential in their clients.
The program is considered to be one of the nation’s best and relies on funding from a combination of various grants and charitable gifts. With an annual budget of $6.2M, the organization occupies a ten-floor office building on Court Street and has a 306-occupancy capacity. The NESHV maintains almost 100 employees.
Even if you did not have a chance to stop by the tent, it is not too late to help out a great cause. AFAA will continue accepting donations through the following paypal link: www.paypal.com; “Send Money” to firstname.lastname@example.org.All donations are tax deductible.
The Tent Drive was sponsored by The Boston Consulting Group and Microsoft. Three lucky winners received door prizes of a Microsoft Software Suite and Ipod Shuffles.