This year at the 2019 National ASMC PDI, hosted by Alamo City Chapter in San Antonio Texas, the Philanthropy Committee had a mission. Find a non-profit organization in Military City USA (San Antonio's nickname) that helps support homeless veterans. We did just that. We learned about VetStrong.
James Pobanz and Ramon Gonzales started out in 2016 as a couple of guys who had trucks, knew people who had furniture they wanted to donate, and knew veterans who were placed into homes but were without even a bed to sleep on or a table to eat on. What did they do? They connected the dots, and began a movement. What they did not know was how fast this mission would grow wings and take flight. In early 2018, the two guys with trucks became a non-profit organization. One hundred percent of labor and goods are contributed at no cost by volunteers who want to help a good cause. When ASMC reviewed their budget, we asked James a question, "How have you been able to make this happen? Your expenses are greater than the income." His reply was "We just made it happen." The demand far outweighed the resources but that did not stop these guys.
The effort has evolved into a community mission of many entities who want to help a good cause. Strong partnerships and networking have allowed VetStrong to meet the need for now and for years to come, and the momentum has evolved into a movement. Many veterans from other communities have contacted James with an interest in starting the mission in their community. The PDI Host committee not only wanted to partner, they wanted to be a part of such a great movement to build a foundation for long term success for our San Antonio homeless veteran community.
Through the generous efforts of the ASMC members at the PDI, from both the charity raffle and contributions, we were able to raise $15,000 for VetStrong so our heroes can have beds. The community service event, with the generous support from National ASMC, was able to build 50 welcome home kits, which included basic household cleaning items such as laundry detergent, cleaning cloths, and dish soap, 50 self-care kits including soap, shampoos, toothpaste, deodorant, and 25 glassware kits with kitchen essentials. On behalf of ASMC, thank you to all who supported the cause all over the world!
James and Ramon are counselors for the homeless veteran community of San Antonio. In their line of work they see many cases of veterans who have been living on the streets, battling various...