Lifting Vets Out of Homelessness and Paying it Forward
This week, in honor of Veterans Day, we celebrate the men and women who have served our country, who today are channeling that impulse to serve to make a difference in their communities. Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree and L’Oréal Paris Woman of Worth, Deborah Snyder.
After serving 22 years in the Army as a helicopter pilot, Deborah Snyder decided to make a change in her community for fellow veterans. “When you spend that much time in the Army, you learn a lot about yourself,” she says.
So in 2011, Snyder formed the Operation Renewed Hope Foundation to help end homelessness among veterans in the Washington, D.C., area. The organization uses the housing-first method – getting a roof overhead, then providing wraparound support services, including employment, transportation assistance, networking, food, clothing, furniture and referrals to pro bono medical and dental services.
“To have a single homeless veteran is unacceptable,” Snyder says, adding that every veteran deserves a chance “to get to a better place in their lives.”
The foundation’s 40 volunteers – many of them veterans themselves – and four case managers work every day to get veterans out of homeless situations. The team begins helping veterans who call within 24 hours.
The group has helped more than 300 vets and their families, raising more than $300,000 to buy foreclosed homes and discounted properties. Many of the veterans who have received assistance have become volunteers themselves, lifting up those who came behind them.
Like veteran Jennifer Lopez, who came to Operation Renewed Hope when she lost her job and her home.
“Operation Renewed Hope came along and helped me secure an apartment,” she says. “They actually saved my life, so I paid it forward and now I’m working with them and helping other veterans.”
Snyder says her experience with Operation Renewed Hope has made her more grateful for what she has: “When I lie down at night, I look up at the ceiling and am thankful. I know there are people right now who don’t have that.”
If you'd like to serve veterans in your community, or serve alongside them, check out the opportunities at AllforGood.org.