Last Updated on March 23, 2022 by Luke Feldbrugge
Lynchburg Area Veterans Council provides financial help to homeless veterans in Virginia. The Homes for Heroes Foundation presented a $10,000 grant to the organization to help it fulfill its mission. This Homes for Heroes Foundation grant is part of the Homes for Heroes’ Circle of Giving, providing assistance for heroes in dire need across the country.
Homes for Heroes Outreach Coordinator, Jay Flynn, talks to Thomas Currant, president of the council, while our affiliates, Melanie Thompson and Angie Holt, present him with a $10,000 Foundation Check.
You can watch the full interview here or read a summarized Q&A of the interview below.
Jay: Hello and thanks everyone for joining us today. I’m Jay Flynn, Hero Outreach Coordinator for Homes for Heroes, and I’m joined today by Thomas Currant, Melanie Thompson and Angie Holt. Welcome guys and thank you for taking a second to tell us about yourself.
Thomas: I’m Thomas Curran, and I’m the president of the Lynchburg Area Veterans Council. We’ve been around for seven years and are starting our eighth year. I helped form it. I’m an attorney and I helped do the legal work. Then about four years ago, they asked me to take it over as president. I did 30 years in the Army. I’m a retired colonel. I appreciate Homes for Heroes so much.
Jay: Thank you for your service, sir. Melanie, how about you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Melanie: I’m from the Lynchburg area – all my life – and I was a mortgage broker. I started in 2001 and then opened a brokerage in 2014. We joined Homes for Heroes in 2017 and haven’t looked back.
Jay: Awesome. Angie it’s your turn now tell us a little bit about yourself.
Angie: I started as a real estate agent in 2001, so I’ve been selling real estate for almost 20 years. I opened my own company in 2018. After we started the Homes for Heroes program as affiliates, we were able to more readily serve our community.
Jay: Awesome. So as part of the Homes for Heroes Circle of Giving, the Homes for Heroes Foundation provides grants to nonprofits who have missions to help heroes in dire need. I’m happy to share that the Lynchburg Area Veterans Council is the Homes for Heroes March 2022 grant recipient.
Melanie and Angie, I believe you’ve got something there you can hold up [holds up check for $10,000]. The Lynchburg Area Veterans Council was nominated as one of three national non-profit semi-finalists to be considered for this grant from Homes for Heroes and the Homes for Heroes Foundation. It was selected because you guys got the most votes nationwide, so that’s pretty awesome!
So Thomas, we’re pleased to present this $10,00 grant to the Lynchburg Area Veterans Council from the Homes for Heroes Foundation. Congratulations! I know you guys have a huge mission. You know, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, on any given night there are at least 131,000 veterans who are homeless. Obviously you guys are working to help us solve this serious nationwide problem, so let’s take a minute and talk about the Lynchburg Area Veterans Council and its mission. Thomas, tell us a little bit about the LAVC and how it’s helping veterans to face difficult times.
Thomas: When we started, it began by helping wheelchair-bound veterans get transported to the Salem VA Center, which is about an hour west of here. They didn’t have a way of getting there, or it was too expensive, and we were able to underwrite those transportation costs using professional medical transport. That’s how it started and it went on from there.
We started to get support. We got our 501c3 letter ruling in 2015 and word started to get around. We started to get some help, and then it just blew wide open. We found all kinds of ways to help veterans financially. Any way you can think of, we have helped veterans in Lynchburg and the surrounding counties for eight years now.
We did a couple of Veteran’s Day parades and that was rewarding. We planned, executed and funded the Veteran’s Day Parades for two years. Then in 2019, that’s when I became president, I got involved with the Continuum of Care Committee and the Miriam House. The people in this area that help with homelessness – not just veterans, all homeless – we got involved with them. I saw a real need that that’s what we should do and not worry about doing parades anymore. We help with homelessness among the veteran population, and that’s what we’ve done for a good two years now. We have a track record with that.
What happens is a veteran pops up on the homeless radar by showing up at one of the shelters, and word gets around to the committee that we’re a part of. It’s called Continuum of Care and usually it takes a week or two to get the veteran qualified. During that interim period is when we step in and provide a motel. As I said in the application, every penny of this [$10,000 Homes for Heroes Foundation grant] will go into that part of our budget. I call it, “the motel money.” We’ve had quite a few over the past year that we’ve put up in the motel for a week–sometimes two weeks. It gets expensive but that’s what the application for this [grant] was for.
Jay: That’s a huge, huge need and we’re so happy to help you guys with that. With the whole COVID 19 pandemic, has that changed things or made things worse for the veteran population? What have you seen?
Thomas: I think it’s made it worse. We’ve had vets that lost jobs. There was this rental relief and some of them got that. Some of them didn’t. They lost work and they have medical expenses, so I think it ramped up our lists. This week we have 13 on our list in the Lynchburg area that are involved with the Continuum of Care. We’ve housed three or four of those temporarily, and the list keeps getting longer.
Jay: You [Melanie] nominated the LAVC for the grant, so tell us a little bit about why you chose to nominate them.
Melanie: We’ve been supporting veterans since we joined as affiliates. We started feeding them at the Monument Terrace Troop Rally, which is the longest running troop rally in the country. We started feeding them in the summer of 2017. So we’ve been involved with veterans for almost five years–working with them on a monthly basis. They did a veteran’s anti-recidivism house that we helped with. I pulled carpet staples. I don’t know how many carpet staples. It must have been 3,000 carpet staples that I pulled. I helped do all the different things at that house to get it ready. The LAVC has also purchased the Desmond Doss House. They bought his childhood home, and he is Lynchburg’s only medal of honor recipient. Doss is the story behind Hacksaw Ridge. The council now owns his childhood home, and it’s a veteran homeless house now.
Jay: Angie, tell us a little bit about how you serve the veteran community and how you helped support the LAVC.
Angie: It’s been quite an honor to meet the men and women down at Monument Terrace, those who have served us. It’s great to hear their stories. We are blessed and thankful that we get to go down the last Friday of every month to serve food to them, talk with them. We also serve at Valor Farm which is a local National Center for Healthy Veterans. We do the small things. For example, they’ve asked us to get papers printed. I have a printing company that is great at printing documents for LAVC. It may be the small stuff but it’s the stuff that saves the dimes and nickels and helps put the money where it needs to be–which is with our veterans.
Jay: Absolutely. It’s pretty amazing that you guys help work out some of those logistics and what may seem very small is actually really big when it comes to helping the folks that really need it.
Angie: Every time they’ve asked for help, we’ve said yes.
Jay: That’s awesome. That’s completely awesome. Tom, tell us a little bit about how the audience could help to support the LAVC and where we can go or click to see and learn more about the Lynchburg Area Veterans Council.
Thomas: We have our website and you can give through the website. There’s an address in there and you can send us a check. We are a fully charitable organization, a 501c3 publicly supported charity. Every penny comes from the public and we have our 990 form up to date and our state 102 form up to date. We sure appreciate some help.
This grant will hopefully help us cover our motel money for a year now. Last year we spent $6,000 just on motels. We spent $16,000 on regular financial assistance to veterans–electric bills, car repairs, rent that’s behind, and so on. Over $10,000 went through the veteran groups that make up LAVC. We’re all volunteers–no paid staff for 2021 so our overhead was 5.9 percent. That keeps us in a good range of overhead. If they want to support us, we’d sure appreciate it. Every penny will go to help a veteran.
Jay: I can tell you the Homes for Heroes Foundation is honored to be able to assist and help out with this grant. Melanie and Angie, thank you so much for the work that you guys are doing there locally as Homes for Heroes representatives and affiliates. Thanks for what you’re doing to help the community and the veteran population. We do appreciate it, for sure.
I gotta say the Lynchburg Area Veterans Council has got it going on. It sounds like everything that you guys are doing has so much meaning and is making such a huge impact in the veteran community. It’s simply amazing. I’m certain that the veterans you help, if they could be on with us today, would give you guys a huge, huge “thank you” and I share the same sentiment. Thank you so much for joining me today and thank you for everything that you’re doing to support the veterans.
And for those that are watching us today, an easy way to show your support is give us a like on the video, leave a comment below and make sure that you’re tuning in to future episodes.
Thank you guys for joining us today. I appreciate everything you’re doing.
Please take a moment to learn more about the Homes for Heroes Foundation and the grants it provides nonprofit organizations who help heroes in need, or simply to make a donation.