“It was New Years Eve,” said Mr. Jones. “New place, new start.”
Jones, a Marine Corps veteran who calls Columbus his home, can now claim the same of a new apartment. With the VA’s assistance, Jones and his wife acquired their place and moved in on December 31, 2013. They spent the seven previous months living in a hotel and the three years prior as homeless citizens.
I spoke with Jones on a cold Friday in February when I joined him and his MVRC career specialist, Tanisha Calhoun, at the Furniture Bank of Central Ohio. Now that he had the place, he would get to turn it into a home by furnishing it with up to 15 donated items from the Furniture Bank. Tanisha and I went along to help him choose his items.
While our group waited its turn to enter the Furniture Bank warehouse, Jones asked me about myself and my role at the MVRC. I explained that I was the new Public Relations Specialist who was still learning about the organization. “I’m going write stories about veterans and their experiences,” I said. He nodded and said there were a lot of veterans facing tough times. As a man living with cancer and a father who buried his oldest daughter less than two years ago, he could speak from experience. Yet, he was positive and grateful for his apartment and for Tanisha, who arranged the Furniture Bank appointment. “She was a blessing, she was right there. A lot of people say they want to help, but then you don’t hear from them.”
Jones and his wife went home with a dark purple couch for their living room and a set of kitchen chairs to compliment their kitchen island. They chose a dresser, a coffee pot, a coffee grinder, and a slew of dishes. They also picked out a king-sized mattress and one twin-sized mattress. But when the warehouse manager discovered Jones and his wife had two granddaughters who would soon visit, he let them take home a second twin mattress. Now both granddaughters have their own bed when they visit.
Since the Furniture Bank outing, I have a better understanding of how the MVRC helps veterans in need. While the MVRC’s core services are career services, our career specialists work to improve the overall quality of our veteran’s lives. They can help vets write a resume, provide them with bus passes so they can get to work, or access services that help life at home. The MVRC helps veterans make new beginnings.
(The veteran’s name in this article has been changed out of respect for his privacy.)