One of our veterans recently had a life-changing day, and it was a day that was many months in the making. Monique, an honorably discharged Air Force veteran, began been working with ABCCM's Veterans Services of the Carolinas (VSC) last year when she was living outdoors in a vehicle she had borrowed from a friend. Monique was homeless and unsheltered during the peak temperatures of Charlotte's hot summer months. Upon connecting with VSC, Monique enrolled in the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) rapid re-housing program. And because being unemployed was also an area of primary concern, Monique became a participant in the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP) to address her employment needs.
In doing so Monique set out to tackle the dual goals of securing gainful employment and permanent housing for her family. Through her dedicated efforts and through the initial supports of ABCCM’s SSVF and HVRP programs, Monique obtained a job offer that allowed her to secure permanent housing. She did so just as she reached the deadline to return the borrowed vehicle in which she had been living. With her new job and housing in place, Monique was able to earn just enough to make ends meet. The lack of dependable transportation in a commuter city still loomed large, however, making it difficult to obtain the security of a better-paying job. Monique made multiple attempts to purchase her own vehicle. But due to past credit issues and the inability to obtain a cosigner for a loan, transportation seemed to be an insurmountable barrier. She was stuck.
That is where things changed for this veteran, and it happened because the community stepped up to help. Through VSC's participation in the NC Serves system with Charlotte Bridge Home, Monique's case manager learned of an opportunity for a veteran to apply for a donated vehicle through a community partnership between Caliber Collision, the Recycled Rides Initiative, and the Changing Lanes program. Indeed, there were many moving parts involved! Changing Lanes is a program at Fayetteville Technical Community College that trains active duty military members for career-level jobs in auto repair. Through Caliber Collision's sponsorship, and Monique's nomination to NC Serves by her ABCCM Veteran's Service of the Carolinas case manager, these soldiers restored a car for one of their own.
Monique now enjoys the freedom of mobility with her professionally restored car!
It is instances like these that make one wonder what else is possible when our efforts are united in cooperative action. This story which spans the efforts of community partners from Asheville, Charlotte and Fayetteville is indeed emblematic of ABCCM's mission to do together what individual congregations cannot do separately.