NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) – Workers with the Veterans Outreach Center were pounding the pavement around Niagara County Wednesday, trying to reach veterans, where ever they are, to make sure they know about the resources they’ve earned through their military service.
About a dozen people with the Veterans Outreach Center were planning to visit around 100 sites, handing out information and speaking to veterans and their family members.
The Veterans Outreach Center is dedicated to serving all veterans from all eras in our area, but this blitz was aimed specifically at reaching out to the hundreds of homeless veterans or veterans at risk of becoming homeless soon. “We are here to help them with a grant that we have, and getting them into stable housing, and helping maybe with their security deposit, if they’re in arrears with their rent or in arrears with their utilities, any way we can get them to move forward and stay stable,” explained Marianne Sernoffsky, Veterans Outreach Center program manager.
Connecting homeless veterans with that kind of help means going wherever those vets may be, and getting help from the community to find them. So, the crews are going door to door at different businesses and groups, hanging up flyers, handing out business cards, and talking about what they do to spread the word a little farther. “We are so proud of our veterans and they have served us and now it’s our time to serve them. And we just want them to ask and come for help,” Sernoffsky said. “We are here for them. At any time.”
Many of the people taking part in the Blitz are veterans themselves, bringing an important perspective to their interactions with the people they’re working to serve. “We leave no soldiers out on the battlefield. Everyone knows that. It’s the same in the veteran community” said Sean Smith, Peer Mentor Coordinator for the Veterans Outreach Center. “Whenever I see a guy (a homeless veteran) out there standing with his sign, I always let him know we’re out here, we’re here to serve you.”
The veterans outreach center offers a wide variety of services to all veterans who need them, from financial services and legal aid to housing help, peer mentorship, and job support, which is possible through a partnership with Goodwill. “It’s very important to go out there, let people know that there’s a place where you can come, that you’re not being abandoned,” said Norm Allen, a veterans job developer with Goodwill. “Back during the Vietnam War, a lot of veterans came back and they felt that no one cared about them. But it’s important to let them know that we do care, and not only do we care, but society cares.”
“To be able to give back, to help veterans to get back on their feet, it’s very important,” he added.
If you are a veteran or you know a veteran who is need of services, you can learn more about the Veterans Outreach Center by calling (716) 424-1892 or Toll Free 1-866-906-VETS (8387).
You can also visit its website at http://veteransoutreachcenter.org/ or stop by the office at 403 Main Street, Suite 320, in Buffalo.
The Veterans Outreach Center also has representatives working several times a month in the Trott Center in Niagara Falls and in the Veterans Service Agency building in Lockport.