After returning home from tours of duty in Iran and Iraq, Michael S. was looking forward to a fresh start. Instead, the U.S. Army veteran, who now suffered from a traumatic brain injury, PTSD and Bipolar Disorder, found himself having to start all over again.
With no ‘Plan B’ in place following a housing error, Michael turned to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for help and was referred to The Homeless Coalition in Charlotte County, an organization offering emergency shelter to individuals, families and for the past five years, veterans in crisis.
There, Michael received Emergency Safe House Shelter, ate meals in the Coalition Café, worked with case managers daily to find affordable housing and utilized other services available for veterans in need.
In 2021, The Homeless Coalition, a community partner of The Mosaic Company for more than a decade, received an increased grant contribution of $25,000 to expand its feeding program and provide operations support for agency programs that help veterans with employment and housing assistance.
“We have a lot of people who count on that hot meal every night,” said Tina Figliuolo, CEO, The Homeless Coalition. “We’re grateful for this grant from Mosaic because it not only helps us keep the lights on, but allows us to continue serving our veterans and the community with three meals a day, snacks at night and, if needed, ongoing access to food pantries once they find housing of their own.”
According to Figliuolo, funding from Mosaic goes toward The Homeless Coalition’s Hunger Prevention Program which not only provides over 101,290 meals annually but also funds the weekly food pantry. The food pantry provides a three-day supply of non-perishable, fresh fruits and vegetables for low income households in the community. Over 20 percent of those who visit the pantry are seniors.
“Mosaic’s mission to help the world grow the food it needs is closely aligned with the work that The Homeless Coalition does to alleviate and prevent hunger and homelessness,” said Heather B. Nedley, Public Affairs Manager. “We’re proud to continue partnering with this amazing organization that does so much to help so many.”
Since 2015, the VA has referred homeless veterans from Charlotte and neighboring counties to The Homeless Coalition where they’re able to stay for 30 days – sometimes longer if needed – to begin the work of repairing their lives. Of the 52 residential spaces available, 20 are reserved for veterans like Michael who can access the resources they need to help address and mitigate issues that lead to continued homelessness.
Today, Michael lives in his own residence in Cape Coral where he attends weekly classes at the VA, volunteers as a motivational speaker and has even reconnected with members of his family.
His story is just one on a growing list of successes by The Homeless Coalition whose goal is to help clients find sustainable, permanent housing.
“The people who are truly helping you won’t give you a handout, they give you that hand up,” Michael said. “It won’t all happen overnight and won’t be easy but have patience and you can change your life.”