Women veterans and their children received help and hope in 2016 with the support of an American Legion Auxiliary Foundation grant for the Children’s Learning Center project at Women Veterans ADVANCE Center at Cabrillo Villages, in Long Beach, Calif. The ALA Department of California matched funds with the ALA Foundation at 50 percent to make this dream a reality.
The Children’s Learning Center allows women veterans to participate in mandated classes so as to retain the custody of their children. The beautiful learning space includes computers and programs, iPads, camera, printers, microphones, headphones, art easels, instruments, and bookshelves. The room was designed for rebuilding parent/children relationships through creativity, team homework, play, job searching, and resume building.
“I was most proud that three of the children, coming out of homelessness, were able to use the computers to be homeschooled,” sad Tamara Bell, an American Legion Auxiliary member and grant applicant. “These children had been living in their car, and had fallen behind.”
Women make up 14 percent of the U.S. active-duty force, 18 percent of National Guard Reserve forces, and 20 percent of all new military recruits. Tragically, they also make up 5 percent of the nation’s homeless veterans, and many of them are single mothers.
“One of the computers was set up in the main living room of the center, and the women veterans are able to SKYPE with their children who are living elsewhere,” Bell said. “This gives them the ability to stay connected, and offers hope as that work toward reunification of their family.”