A Safe Haven Foundation’s 5th Annual Homeless Military Veteran Stand Down


A Safe Haven Foundation’s 5th Annual Homeless Military Veteran Stand Down

Chicago, IL, May 22, 2018–On Saturday, May 19, 2018, hundreds of enthusiastic attendees filled A Safe Haven Foundation’s spacious warehouse, thoughtfully organized with thousands of health and wellness items, service provider tents, and exhibitor tables all ready and excited to support and honor U.S. Military Veterans. At this event, also coinciding with Armed Forces Day, A Safe Haven Foundation hosted one of the city of Chicago’s most anticipated Annual Homeless Veteran Stand Downs. The occasion took place between 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., on the entire block of 2501West Taylor Street. A Safe Haven gathered nearly 500 military veterans to receive services provided by 75 Veteran Service Organizations from Chicago’s top Medical, Behavioral Health, Housing, Workforce Development and Human Service organizations.

The Stand Down provided all homeless military veteran attendees immediate access to a multitude of services through the generous support of Jesse Brown V.A. Medical Center and the U.S. Department of Defense; sponsorships from Boeing Global Engagement Fund, Oberweiler Foundation, Disabled Veterans National Foundation and The McCormick Foundation; in collaboration with community stakeholders, partners, and nearly 250 committed volunteers. The event Chair was Military Veteran and A Safe Haven Chief Executive Officer, Brian M. Rowland, supported by an Honorary Host Committee comprised of top veteran advocates from Chicago and throughout Illinois.

The Stand Down served veterans from all areas of the U.S. Armed Forces: 269 from the Army, 73 from the Navy, 95 from the Marines, and 42 from the Air Force. The committee members supporting this event were Brian Rowland, Event Chair; Neli Vazquez Rowland, Co-Founder and President of A Safe Haven;  Mark G. Mulroe, Executive Vice President at A Safe Haven; Erika Jeffries, Director of the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs; Alderman Gilbert Villegas, City of Chicago; Bill Browne, Director at Cook County Veteran Affairs; Donna Gaines, Founder of Donna M. Gaines, Ltd.; Dr. Neelum Aggarwal, Rush University Medical Center Neurologist and Clinical Researcher; Maria Talis, Supervisor for the Illinois Department of Employment Security; John Mack of the Illinois State Police; and Samuel Mulroe, University of Chicago Medicine, Process Transformation Specialist.

Many respected Illinois and U.S. government and business leaders joined to advocate for the need to prioritize veteran services, including: Illinois State Representative La Shawn K. Ford; Judith Frydland, Chicago Department of Buildings Commissioner; Joseph Galvan, Midwest Regional Administrator at U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, accompanied by his uncle and World War II Veteran; John Paruch, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at Disabled Veterans National Foundation; and A Safe Haven board member and Chicago Scene owner Kenneth Monro.

“I really can’t thank everyone enough for bringing this event to life. There’s hardly a way to truly give back and thank our veterans after all they’ve gone through for us, but we do what we can, when we can, to show them that we care and that we’re here. A recent McCormick Foundation study found that over 40% of Chicago veterans who “come home” from service have no stable home to go to. At A Safe Haven Foundation, we want every person at-risk or in crisis to know that they are not alone; they have a place to turn to for help, where the end goal is getting them back on their feet with stable housing and employment, health services, and a restored sense of pride and purpose.” –  Neli Vazquez Rowland, President of A Safe Haven Foundation.

The Veteran Stand Down had multiple impacts, including those that took place on the day of the Stand Down and others that will last long-term. In the specialized Veteran Women’s section, some volunteers received hugs and words of gratitude, and Michelle, a volunteer with Salesforce, shared that there is no place she’d rather be on a Saturday than supporting our Veterans at this impactful event. The volunteer hours provided an impact value of $57,296.04. In-kind support was provided by the U.S. Department of Defense ($700,000.00+), the Disabled Veterans National Foundation ($78,000.00), and the Bradford Exchange ($25,000.00). The entire estimated in-kind impact was $850,000.00.

There are many occasions to volunteer at A Safe Haven, so feel free to learn more at https://www.asafehaven.org/volunteer/. To volunteer for the upcoming 5K RUN! To End Homelessness, taking place at Beautiful Montrose Harbor on July 14, 2018, visit https://www.asafehaven.org/5k-run-to-end-homelessness/. We hope to see you soon!