As a legal mitigator, Connie Lindsay was serving on the Judicial Commission for the State of Florida when she came across a defendant who’d successfully completed his program, but was facing homelessness. Finding housing for the sober veteran, who was just getting back on his feet, was nearly impossible due to a lack of public resources.
After digging deeper, Connie discovered that due to a lack of public resources available for returning veterans, many vets choose to embellish their struggles to receive services otherwise not available. Hillsborough County was overcome by homelessness, and the restorative justice program Connie served on was broken, according to the Tampa, Florida resident. In an effort to promote justice and maintain low rates of recidivism, the program emphasized honesty, and she wanted to provide resources for veterans without any conditions based upon sobriety.
As the founder of Liberty Manor for Veterans, Connie is providing critical support to veterans who may otherwise be homeless while they attempt to rebuild their lives. By supporting over a thousand veterans thus far and helping drive down the homeless rate in the country, Connie is making an impact in her community. She is ensuring the future success of our country’s veterans, and is today’s Daily Point of Light award honoree. Points of Light spoke to Connie to learn more about her work with Liberty Manor.
What inspires you to volunteer?
My dad and my mother were my inspiration. After my dad completed his tour as a volunteer veteran in WWII, he continued his stewardship to our country by serving in public office. My family has always volunteered and both of my children volunteer. Volunteering is just ingrained in us; it’s something we have to do. You’re given so many talents, and service is a good way to impart our talents to our community.
Describe your volunteer role with Liberty Manor.
I serve as the Liberty Manor CEO. I’m in charge of ensuring that all their basic needs are met. Not only do we take care of them while they’re at Liberty Manor, but when they transition out we help them with furniture in their new homes and we stock them with food. Our support mirrors how we treat our children when we send them off to college. If they start to fail, we pick them right back up. We’re family; it’s a lifelong engagement with these veterans.
You make a promise to the veterans when they come to Liberty Manor. What is it?
I explain to our veterans when they come to Liberty Manor that when you serve in the military, you are at times hot, cold and hungry. I make a vow that this will never happen to them again.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?
We had a young Army Ranger veteran come to stay with us at Liberty Manor, which was very unusual because they’re pretty high functioning. They jump out of planes and operate complex missions while serving. This former Army Ranger had been living in his car; service just takes such a toll. We brought him into Liberty Manor, and worked with him to get disability services he didn’t even know he was eligible for. Unfortunately, he died a couple of years ago, but he didn’t die homeless. He had a home with us and we were there to take care of him when he needed it most.
What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?
I’ve learned that it’s a whole lot more important to be able to penetrate the lives of individuals because the impact of homelessness affects the entire family; it affects up to five generations. Homelessness does not just affect the individual, but their potential children, their potential grandchildren and that individuals’ parents and grandparents. If I can get a veteran employed or help them receive a disability check, then they have the ability to support their family members.
Are there any future partnerships, programs, or events that you are excited about?
We always have an event around Veterans Day. Please check our website for more information: www.libertymanor.org.
What would the title of your autobiography be?
“Trainwreck” (laughs). I didn’t have experience in housing when I started Liberty Manor. My experience was in legal manners. When I opened Liberty, I thought I could just open a house and help veterans. What I didn’t expect were the nuances owning a house and paying for treatments. Then we had bedbugs; it has been a process.
Why do you think it’s important for others to give back?
If we didn’t, it would be our country’s demise. Non-profits couldn’t afford to pay for staff to provide service. Volunteers are critical to non-profits being able to operate.
What do you want people to learn from your story?
I would encourage our communities to step up and help one another. We give a lot of aid to other countries, which is admirable, but we have enough communities and organizations in our own backyard that are suffering. I encourage everyone to give locally, statewide and across the country.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Connie Lindsay? Visit All For Good for local volunteer opportunities.
Post written by Marlena Militana.