Florida Chapter Receives Grant to Aid Women Veterans

Florida Chapter Receives Grant to Aid Women Veterans
Marie Bogdonoff, second from right, Villagers for Veterans chief executive officer, and Lt. Cmdr. Kathryn Wilgus, USN (Ret), second from left, Villagers for Veterans vice president, accept a donation from Lake and Sumter Counties Chapter President Lt. Col. Donald L. Hansen, USA (Ret), far left, and Col. William Wojciechowski, USAF (Ret), far right, chapter liaison for Villagers for Veterans. (Courtesy photo)

The Lake and Sumter Counties (Fla.) Chapter is part of an effort to provide temporary housing in central Florida for women veterans transitioning into civilian life.


The chapter is partnering with Villagers for Veterans (V4V), a nonprofit that ensures “veterans receive assistance in healing, a return to normalcy, and an independent lifestyle.” V4V assists veterans by providing resources, including transitional housing, to individuals who are unable to receive help through established channels, according to the organization’s website.


Col. William Wojciechowski, USAF (Ret), state legislative liaison for the chapter and a member of the V4V advisory council, said the chapter’s partnership with the nonprofit unites the fundraising and donation capacity of both organizations, which will benefit veterans in need in a three-county area. Those counties — Lake, Marion, and Sumter — are home to more than 84,300 veterans, of which nearly 7,200 are women veterans.


[RELATED: 42 MOAA Affiliates Receive Grants From The MOAA Foundation]


“The women V4V supports have recently left the military or have been separated and are dealing with homelessness or trying to cope with a diversity of challenges associated with transitioning to independent living,” Wojciechowski said.


The organization operates Ashley’s Cottage in Fruitland Park, a home that can accommodate up to six women at a time. Residents receive food and other amenities needed for daily living, all without a cost to them, thanks to the generosity of individuals and organizations as well as V4V fundraising events.


The Lake and Sumter Counties Chapter applied for and received a $5,000 Community Outreach Grant from The MOAA Foundation to support that effort. The chapter is providing an additional $3,000 from its funds. In May, the chapter presented its first installment, $3,000, to Marie Bogdonoff, V4V chief executive officer.


“The Ashley’s Cottage living environment provides basic needs — food and water and a place to rest, resources and shelter, and friends and people who care — and these are needs that must first be met before an individual an achieve their higher-level needs such as self-confidence, self-respect, independence, and success, the ultimate goals of an Ashley’s Cottage resident,” Wojciechowski said. “The impact of these funds is self-evident.”


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About the Author

Blair Drake
Blair Drake

As managing editor of Military Officer, Drake coordinates and edits content for the magazine, including the Never Stop Serving section.