It is a statistic that many find shocking: there are over 107,000 homeless veterans in this country. According to Tony Campanella, founder of Homes for the Brave Ohio, most people believe the U.S. government takes care of its veterans after they complete their service. Even for those who have been left disabled from war or for families left behind after a loved one dies, this is often not the case.
For Tony Campanella, an Army veteran who served in Korea for 13 months, the issue of homeless veterans is just too important to ignore. In June 2010, this Chesterland, Ohio resident formed Homes for the Brave Ohio, an organization dedicated to helping homeless veterans in the Ohio counties of Lake, Cuyahoga, Geauga and Ashtabula find housing and the training they need to become productive citizens. He has enlisted the help of family and friends, and the group is now raffling a 1965 Corvette valued at $50,000 to raise money and awareness for his project. Tickets are $25 each, or five for $100. A maximum of 5,000 tickets will be sold and the drawing will be held on May 30, 2011.
The money raised from this raffle will help purchase property to house veterans. A volunteer staff will assist, and the government's daily stipend of $35 per veteran will help cover some of the costs. The support program that Homes for the Brave Ohio provides will further assist the veterans with counseling and transportation for medical treatments. The program is designed to help each veteran gain steady employment and transition to their own permanent housing.
Homes for the Brave Ohio board members include Ohio State Senator Tim Grendell; Shalla Halverson, a Desert Storm veteran; Chuck Lamarca, a World War II veteran; and Father Neil Walters from the Church of St. Clarence (North Olmsted, Ohio). Campanella met Father Neil while serving as a volunteer prayer minster at the Cuyahoga County prison. Campanella said he was surprised by the number of veterans in jail, many of whom do not have a lot of options when they are released. "I was fortunate to return from duty with little repercussions," Campanella says. "Several friends, particularly those who served in Vietnam, struggled when they returned from combat. I have a strong drive to make this program a success, and am not a guy who is good at taking 'no' for an answer."
Please visit www.homesforbrave.com or call 440-602-2892 to purchase tickets for the 1965 Corvette, for those interested in volunteer opportunities, and for more information about Homes for the Brave Ohio.