Members of Palmer-Roberts American Legion Auxiliary Unit 214 have seen the lives of homeless veterans transformed at the Volunteers of America Veterans Resource Center in Cleveland.

To make an additional impact, Unit 214 applied for an American Legion Auxiliary Foundation Veteran Projects Fund grant to transform the common room at the Veterans Resource Center, a transitional housing shelter that serves up to 50 homeless veterans. Their programs help veterans find employment and housing, while providing a safe and stable environment.

The common room should play a key role in the socialization of residents, but with its dirty, worn out, wooden furniture, very few veterans wanted to spend time there.

“In addition to being worn, the furniture is also made of wood, which can lead to pest infestations, making it harder to keep clean,” said Susan Schofield Fratino, member of Unit 214.

Fratino and other Unit 214 members wanted to make a healthy and more enjoyable atmosphere for veterans at the Veterans Resource Center with new, heavy-wear steel furniture.

Though Unit 214 applied for the ALA Foundation grant, funds to cover the remaining costs were raised by Unit 214, as well as ALA units 601, 112, 151, 7, and ALA Lake County Council.

“It was a total collaboration,” Fratino said. “What a thrill for us to be working together for the same cause.”

Unit 214 hosted a celebratory ice cream social for residents when the new furniture arrived at the Veterans Resource Center.

“With the new furniture in place, veterans are excited to use the room and are using it more than they have before, which helps them to integrate back into the community at a quicker pace than those veterans who tend to keep to themselves,” Fratino said.

“I just want to thank the ALA Foundation for all the assistance with the project and making it so easy to help serve our veterans.”

Click here for more information on how to apply for a Veteran Projects Fund grant through the American Legion Auxiliary Foundation.

Pictured above is Michael, a veteran and Assistant Program Director at the resource center. Before landing this job, Michael was a homeless veteran who used this facility to help get back on his feet.