June 13, 2014
In attendance: Isabel Belen, Veterans Inc., Ben Cluff, DPH, Steve Como, Soldier On, Steve Connor, Veterans Services, Patty McDonnell, SMOC, Katherine Person, Veterans Inc., Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kerry Spitzer, MIT student, Susan White, VA, Sabrina Willard, Springfield Partners
Ben Cluff reported on in-service training conducted at Western Mass. Housing Court. Judge Fields attended as well. Judge agreed that before each session, he would ask the question of who in the room has served in the military, and provide referrals as needed.
Ben Cluff and Steve Connor are also reaching out to Tenancy Preservation Project to arrange in-service trainings statewide (Western Mass. TPP is already on board with this military service inquiry)
Veterans Resources Hand-out:
It was noted that District Attorney David Sullivan’s office is producing a veterans resources manual. It will offer resources in the context of the criminal justice services available for veterans. Will be good to be aware of it and distribute but different context and format than our hand-out.
We reviewed Sue White’s latest revision of our resource sheet, made final comments/changes and agreed we are basically there! Sue will make final revisions; Pamela will put it on Network letterhead and we will distribute before July 1. Big thanks to Sue for all her work on this.
Steve Como of Soldier On announced that SSVF grant was renewed for $772,000 million and is subcontracted to Springfield Partners for Community Action. Soldier On also received a new $1 million SSVF grant (for each year for the next 3 years), a CoC priority grant that will be administered by Berkshire Regional Housing Authority.
Steve also announced that Soldier On is closing on new property in Leeds (Northampton) on 7/8 that will lead the way to 44 permanent units for frail and elderly veterans and 16 transitional units for women and children. They are also close to finishing financing for 52 units of permanent housing in Agawam and 32 units of permanent housing in Chicopee.
Katherine Persons of Veterans Inc. announced that its “Stand Down” event is taking place on June 20 in Central Mass. Western Mass.’ Stand Down will take place on 10/9 at Mass. Mutual Center.
Statewide Plan Update:
Steve Connor reported that there are now 3 working groups – Intervention/Prevention was collapsed into one; and the others are Data and Housing Capacity. They are planning regional trainings and looking to a busy summer of gathering and continuing the work.
Special guest: Kerry Spitzer joined us today. She is an MIT Ph.D. student doing her dissertation on veterans’ transitioning to the community and is focusing on Western Mass. for her study. We welcomed her to our group and she will be in touch with us individually as needed.
Next meeting: Wed., July 23, 9 am, Northampton Senior Center
Note: Pamela will be on leave for July and August (travel/study in Ecuador with her family), but Sue White has generously agreed to convene and facilitate the group. Thank you, Sue!