Showing posts with label AmeriCorps. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AmeriCorps. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 11

Understanding ROI: U.S. Vets


While many social media experts and communicators tend to think "sales" anytime someone mentions return on investment (ROI), serving as a state commissioner for Nevada Volunteers (formerly Nevada Commission for National & Community Service, Inc.), provides a different perspective. Return on investment doesn't always mean profit margins; it means outcomes.

U.S. Vets On Veterans Day

U.S. Vets, one of several AmeriCorps-supported programs administered by this commission in Nevada, provides safe, sober, clinically supported housing and employment assistance to help rehabilitate homeless veterans. Here in Nevada, U.S. Vets helps more than 750 veterans transition from being homeless to self-sufficient every year.

They accomplish this by initiating contact with homeless veterans; providing a needs assessment; relocating them to transitionary housing, offering legal services, life skills, family support, job training, and full-time employment. I've spoken with and interviewed many graduates of the U.S. Vets over the last six years I've served as a commissioner.

From Nevada's perspective, every dollar the state invests is matched with the equivalent of about $10 in federal funding, one of the highest returns on investment for any non-profit organization in the state. Amazingly, although it would be enough, U.S. Vets is not the only AmeriCorps program to benefit.

Outcomes from various programs include: the reforestation and the reduction of fire hazards across hundreds of acres near rural communities, educational assistance to hundreds of at-risk students who increased their proficiency by two grade levels, and delivering thousands of residents medical case management and badly needed food. There's more, but the point is significant. ROI is about outcomes.

ROI is about a plumber who visited my home a few years ago. As he was passing back and forth from his van to my sink, he noticed President Bush on television and smiled.

"I know a lot of people who don't like him, but I do because he supports AmeriCorps," he said. "Without AmeriCorps, I would still be homeless, but now I have a full-time job and am graduating to move into my own apartment next week."

As you might expect, we talked for some time as he shared how he came to be homeless and how U.S. Vets helped him restart his life. I shared with him how AmeriCorps occasionally becomes a political football, but how it's also one of the most efficient bipartisan programs in the country. Originally, AmeriCorps was brought into existence by President Bill Clinton and later saved by President Bush through his Call To Service (and now highlighted on President-Elect Obama's transitional Web site. Why? Because of individual success stories just like this.

My Son On Veterans Day

His story also reminds me of something else today. The people who serve as AmeriCorps volunteers all over our country are inspiring Americans because they demonstrate how Americans do not have to be "forced to be generous" as I heard one politician recently claim. On the contrary, they only need to be engaged.

Today, my son became engaged after learning about the Adopt A Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine program organized by Soldiers' Angels. For the next six months, he will write a serviceman or servicewoman stationed abroad, sending a card or letter each week and care packages once or twice a month. It might not seem like much, but it's an important self-chosen step for a 9-year-old to take in developing what may one day become a legacy of service, inspired by our veterans and servicemen and women. And that too is ROI.

For our veterans, thank you and bless you.

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Monday, November 12

Honoring Veterans: Veterans Day


"On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain." — Dwight D. Eisenhower, President

Before my grandfather (16th Infantry, 3rd Bn, 1st Inf Div - Berlin) died a few years ago, he left behind a legacy for others to carry forward with the Berlin Veterans Association. Originally, he served in the Army Air Corps until it became part of the Army Air Forces, which were later disestablished by Congress (thus creating the U.S. Air Force). Among other assignments, he was stationed in Germany during the Berlin Blockade (Also know as the Berlin Airlifts), one of first major crises of the Cold War.

While our family has several veterans and we honor of all them today, I would like to bring attention to the Berlin U.S. Military Veterans Association, the organization that consists of men and women who served with Les and/or were connected to him by serving in Berlin. Their service, like the service of all our veterans, need not be forgotten.

Another organization worth mentioning today is U.S. Vets. U.S. Vets is the largest non-profit organization in the country dedicated to helping homeless and at-risk veterans, and a nationally recognized leader in the field of service delivery to veterans. I have been close to this program on a number of occasions as a state commissioner with the Nevada Commission for National and Community Service (NCNCS), which administers AmeriCorps programs in Nevada.

Every year, U.S. Vets helps more than 1,100 homeless veterans return to full time employment. It has one of the most successful homeless rehabilitation models in the country and I’ve been personally touched by their work on more than one occasion — including when a plumber, working on the kitchen sink in my home, shared his homeless story with me. As it turned out, he was graduating from the U.S. Vets program a few weeks later.

And finally, we also extend our heartfelt appreciation to Soldiers’ Angels, which is launching a new holiday program for troops who are currently deployed around the world. (They also have several programs to assist veterans.)

I learned about Solders’ Angels after speaking with Rick Calvert, creator of BlogWorld. We wrote a short piece on how BlogWorld had donated a booth to Soldiers’ Angels on our community blog last week.

Last week, I had planned to share some insights into BlogWorld today, but that can wait until tomorrow. Today is better served by observing and honoring all those who have served so their efforts and sacrifices to this country and other countries are remembered always. Thank you, and bless you, one and all. Our veterans.

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