‘Day of Action’ Brings Holidays to Veterans and the Needy

Originally published in This is the Bronx.

By Melanie Correa

December 10, 2017

On Friday hundreds of volunteers across eight locations in the Bronx and Harlem gathered for a Day of Action Against Homelessness.  They pitched in on toy and clothing drives and decorated for the holidays to help veterans and vulnerable New Yorkers have a better holiday.

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Volunteers put up Christmas decorations for Day of Action (Melanie Correa)

At the Kingsbridge Terrace Veterans Residence Tori Lyon, the CEO of the Jericho Project that serves veterans there with supportive housing and comprehensive counseling, says that this activity is merely an extention of what goes on daily.

“This is their home and we’re beautifying it for the holidays and spreading some holiday cheer,” she said.

Veteran Pat Wehl, who is a resident, echoed the sentiment.

“The thing about Jericho is that the key word is ‘supportive.’ The fact that they have events like this, that these people are here during Christmas time, says that they go out of their way.”

Ernst & Young, one of the corporate partners for the event, brought some of  their employees to help decorate the place.

EY Executive Director Joe McHugh said, “I think it’s important because it’s the holiday season.  It’s bringing people together and it enables them to feel the joy of the season. It’s giving back to the community and to an organization we’re passionate about.”

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Pat Wehl and Darold Cox, Veterans at Kingsbridge Terrace (Melanie Correa)

When veterans walked into the community room, they were welcomed by Christmas music, red and green décor, board games and a beautiful Christmas Tree. There was a luncheon and gift-bags from the volunteers.

The occasion motivated Craig Hinds, a veteran who has lived at the Residence since 2012, to open up about his experience living amongst other veterans.

“I love it,” he said. “Veterans have a certain camaraderie with each other and it doesn’t matter what branch we’re from. We understand each other’s special needs, our PTSD issues, and we are able to relate to each other better than with other civilians so it’s great.”

This second annual Day of Action event had eight supporting partners, including Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, and Viacom who pitched in with funding and volunteers personnel. Amazingly enough, the events in all the locations were being held at the same time.

“Our Day of Action will give New Yorkers a way to tackle the crisis of homelessness head-on and give back to our city,” Ms. Lyon said.

For more information on the project, or how to volunteer visit the Jericho Project.