By Blair Drake, Contributing Editor
Members of the Treasure Coast (Fla.) Chapter are dedicating their time to help local homeless and at-risk veterans. The chapter works with Sarah’s Kitchen, which was created in 2009 by spiritually motivated layman and clergy from seven congregations to feed the hungry in St. Lucie County when the unemployment rate hit a high 15%. Today, Sarah’s Kitchen serves over 1,200 meals a week, including to more than 250 veterans.
In 2016, the Treasure Coast Chapter began partnering with Sarah’s Kitchen to provide hot meals using their mobile feeding vehicle. Chapter members follow along with the food pantry and provide care packages, personal hygiene bags, clothing, blankets, sleeping bags, and other needed items. The mobile feeding units travel each week to parks and homeless camps, and they feed about 25 veterans and families during each mobile feeding.
According to Lt. Col. Bobbie Williams, USA (Ret), past president of the chapter, chapter members assist with feeding, collecting clothing and personal hygiene items, preparing care packages, and distributing clothing and care packets. They volunteer about 92 hours a month — approximately 1,000 hours annually.
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“Our program and presence brings about awareness and other resources from local and state government to address this ever-growing problem,” Williams explained. “Our chapter’s goal is to help reduced homelessness and food insecurity among veterans by nearly 30% in the next three to five years.”
The Treasure Coast Chapter’s effort is one of many high-impact local programs the MOAA Foundation helps to fund through its Community Outreach Grant program. The chapter was one of 22 MOAA chapters that received a portion of the $79,400 in grants awarded in 2019.
The grant is helping the chapter and Sarah’s Kitchen continue to provide hot meals, clothing, and hygiene packets and supporting local veterans Stand Downs.
“Several veterans have expressed a deep gratitude of thanks for the meals and other items provided that supplement their fixed or Social Security disability income,” Williams said. “The impact these grant funds have on our homeless and at-risk veterans and families and those dealing with food insecurity in tremendous.”