Averell Johns, a U.S. Navy veteran, former Delaware Home of the Brave resident, and current member of their board of directors, looked out at the garden at his home as he described the impact an American Legion Auxiliary Foundation grant had on his friends at the Home of the Brave.
“You really help out a lot of veterans — veterans who come there with just the clothes on their back, who are sleeping outside, and you put someone in a place with all kinds of different resources,” Averell said.
In summer 2020, the ALA Foundation granted a local Delaware Auxiliary unit $10,000 to purchase a new van to transport residents to and from appointments, job interviews, and other activities around the community. The mid-sized van allowed the Home of the Brave to not only transfer more veterans at one time, but also made transferring small groups more cost effective than bringing a larger vehicle.
Saving money on transportation allows the home to put more resources into programs and support they offer veterans in need. Few know how life-changing this gift is more than Averell, who arrived at the Home of the Brave during one of the most challenging times in his life.
In 2018, Averell and his two brothers were living with their mother when she got sick. At the time, Averell’s mother was the bulk of the income for their family, and Averell had begun to develop a neurological condition, which led to him being unable to work. When his mother’s nursing home expenses became too much to manage, Averell turned to the Home of the Brave.
“I told them my situation and they helped me out,” Averell said.
“When I got there, there was a lot of uncertainty, and I was unsure what to think. But I met a lot of great people there.”
Staff at the Home of the Brave supported Averell with not only his basic needs, but they went above and beyond, helping him connect with a lawyer to receive his disability payments. In the six months he lived at the home, Averell saw so many of his peers have successes they never would have dreamed of.
“It’s an opportunity to re-evaluate and redefine yourself,” Averell said, “because I have seen guys there who have come in with a bad situation and they use the program tools to get employment. Some of them will work while they are there, and they eventually save enough money to move out on their own.”
Averell was also able to find community and spiritual fulfillment at the Home of the Brave. He enjoyed participating in discussions with fellow veterans at the bible study they held each Tuesday morning. He also found his niche with gardening projects — a passion he carries to this day.
“The main purpose was to grow fresh vegetables for the veterans,” Averell said. “I also planted flowers in front of the men’s and women’s housing, and I just got really invested in it.
I’m on my deck right now, looking outside, and I have rose plants and marigolds, so that is something that followed me as a result of my time at the Home of the Brave.”
Today, as a board member at the Home of the Brave, Averell knows that none of this would be possible without the generous support of organizations like the American Legion Auxiliary Foundation.
“As a veteran who was there, I just want to say thank you to you, because you have helped — and continue to help — a lot of veterans in need,” Averell said.
Averell and his peers at the Home of the Brave are Faces Behind the Funds — heroes supported all around the nation because of your generous gifts on #GivingTuesday. Help more heroes with a gift today: donate.legion-aux.org/GivingTuesday.