Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Sancy Childers and I just began working as an Elks Scholar Fellow at the Elks National Veteran Services Commission in Chicago. This past June I graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a B.S. in Biological Sciences. Back in 2012 when I began college, I received a Legacy Scholarship as well as a Lodge Scholarship from the San Rafael, Calif., Lodge No. 1108 where my family has been members for years. Thank you for the generous support, the knowledge that this organization believed in me enough to invest in my future gave me the confidence to pursue my goals. Your support was invaluable and I’ve now come full circle and returned to give back to the Elks!
I’ve been working here a few weeks and things in Chicago are in full swing! I was fortunate enough to attend the Elks National Convention in Houston over the 4th of July weekend. I had no idea what to expect from this event and was blown away by all the amazing work the members of the Elks are doing. From serving veterans to volunteering with programs to assist children with disabilities, Elks members are making a visible and meaningful impact in their communities across the country.
In Houston there was a lot of chatter about the Welcome Home program aimed at ending veteran homelessness. This will be my primary focus and I’m so excited to get started! There are 5 components to the program; Welcome Home Kits to help veterans establish their homes once they become housed, Adopt a Homeless Veteran where Elks members act as an advocate and friend to help a veteran transition into their home, Awareness Campaign where we help Elks spread the word about the issue, Elks Housing Navigators where Elks members work with homeless veterans to find a home and become integrated into the community, and finally the Elks Emergency Assistance Program. In this final component veterans can apply for a one-time monetary assistance to prevent homelessness. Requests include helping with utility payments to ensure that housed veterans don’t lose their electricity or gas, helping pay for a security deposit to aid homeless veterans in becoming house, as well as rental assistance to ensure housed veterans don’t fall into homelessness.
I’ve processed hundreds of these Emergency Assistance applications in the past few weeks and wanted to share one of these veteran’s story. A young veteran in the Chicago area was injured and required a common surgical procedure. His job required him to do manual labor and he was quickly terminated because this simple operation prevented him from working for a few weeks. Before he knew it, this father of two daughters who had been housed with a stable job, was on the brink of becoming homeless. By helping this family pay their rent, they have been able to remain housed while the father seeks alternative employment now that he is in good health again. It warms my heart to be able to help families like this and be able to see what a direct and tremendous impact the Elks National Veterans Service Commission is having!
If you wish to get involved you can read more about the Welcome Home program on our website or view the presentation given at the Elks National Convention last week by clicking on the presentation titled “Ending Veteran Homelessness: How the Elks can Help”. Check back in for more stories like this and updates on what’s going on here in Chicago!