Spring 2015

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Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans 433 S. Carlton Avenue, Wheaton, IL 60187 • 630-871-VETS (8387) • [email protected]

Spring 2015

MSHV establishes new headquarters in Wheaton Carlton Avenue space to house programs, offices and commissary Founded By Bob Adams & Dirk Enger

Marine LCpl. Nicholas Larson Home For Transitional Housing

The Midwest Shelter has purchased a building located in downtown Wheaton that will serve as the agency’s headquarters facility. Located at 433 S. Carlton Ave., the two-story building will house the Shelter’s administrative offices, some program staff and the Captain Kevin C. Landeck Freedom Commissary. “In 2012 we developed a strategic plan that included goals for meeting the growing needs of at-risk veterans and their families,” explained MSHV Executive Director Pamela Kosetcki. “Since then, our organization has started to grow at a rapid rate. This new building allows us to accommodate that growth in a way that makes prudent economic sense.” In 2013, and again in 2014, the Shelter was awarded a Supportive Services for Veteran Families grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which has enabled MSHV to serve 143 homeless and at-risk veteran households in seven northern Illinois counties. Later this year, MSHV will open its Tammy’s Trace home in Wheaton,

Army SSgt. Robert J. Miller Home For Affordable Housing

Army Captain Kevin C. Landeck Freedom Commissary

The Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans has purchased this building at 433 S. Carlton Ave. in Wheaton to serve as its new headquarters location. which will provide affordable housing for female veterans. The Shelter also was awarded funding from the DuPage Continuum of Care and HUD to provide scattered-site Permanent Supportive Housing to chronically homeless veterans. “To offer these exciting new pro-

grams, we have expanded our service and support staff,” added Pam. “We had outgrown the two locations we were renting, so the new building addresses our space needs while permitting us to provide additional programs to veterans and their families. We want to help as many of these heroes as we can.”

Larson Home, SSVF program pass VA inspection The Midwest Shelter is pleased to share the news that both its Marine LCpl. Nicholas Larson Home for Transitional Housing and its Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program have once again passed inspection by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “It’s not necessarily unexpected, but always welcome news,” said Bob Adams, MSHV co-founder and current board president. “It speaks to our dedicated and professional staff who are focused on helping the veterans we are honored to serve.” VA inspectors evaluate the Larson home annually to determine the appropriateness for continued placement of veterans within the Grant and

Per Diem Program. The inspection includes a review of every area of operations: facility management, nutrition and food services, security and law enforcement, medication review

and a clinical review of case records. "I am so proud of the staff who have been working all year round to get our SSVF program to where it is today," said MSHV Executive Director Pamela Kostecki. "Of course, we strive to do great work with the veterans we serve and their families, but to score a 100 percent in every area is an amazing accomplishment.” The VA monitored the Shelter's SSVF performance in the following areas:  Progress on Grant Objectives  Overall Management and Structure  Outreach and Targeting  Participant Eligibility  Supportive Services and Case Management  Financial Management


Page 2 A Message From The President




This spring we have lots of good news. First, the Shelter had the second baby born to a staff member. Laine Hartwell Shiller recently gave birth to Dexter, a fine lad who checked in at 6 pounds 10 ounces. Mom, dad and Dexter are all doing fine. As you saw on Page 1, MSHV has just completed the purchase of a building at 433 S. Carlton Ave. in Wheaton. The two-story structure will house all our administrative staff as well as the Captain Kevin C. Landeck Freedom Commissary. We also hope to expand programming in this new facility. Recently, the Shelter has been the beneficiary of some wonderful donations. Many thanks to Local Union 1 of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Union Workers, AFL-CIO for a generous $12,500 donation. As always, our union friends continue to assist us in our efforts. We also received a $7,000 donation from the Student Veteran Society of Columbia College Chicago's 2nd Annual Public Sleep Out to dramatize the plight of homeless veterans. We are both grateful for and proud of these young veterans determined not to leave their comrades behind. Coming online this spring is Freedom Harbor, four beds of permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless veterans. We are very grateful to DuPage County Director of Human Services Mary Keating and the DuPage Continuum of Care for this opportunity. The final preparations and funding are coming together for our women’s home, Tammy’s Trace. More on this very soon! Our work continues and expands. We are so grateful to all of you who share your time and treasure with us so we can extend the mission of leaving no veteran behind. We are still a grass roots organization that relies on the generous support you provide. Thank you all and bless your hearts. Peace,

Doc Adams

TOP PHOTO: John F. Gardiner, middle, the agent for Local Union 1 of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, AFL-CIO, which made a generous $12,500 donation to MSHV, poses with Shelter co-founders Bob Adams, left, and Dirk Enger, right, in February. BOTTOM PHOTO: From left: Brian Ngo, Founder & President of The Student Veteran Society of Columbia College Chicago, MSHV's Bob Adams and SVS board member Brennan McGiffin pose at the Shelter. The Society held a public sleep-out on Jan. 14 that raised $7,000 for MSHV.

Tammy’s Trace: Help MSHV to make this house a home also is currently seeking items to furnish the shared living room space for the women. If anyone is interested in providing furnishing for either the living room or the final bedroom at Tammy’s Trace, please contact Javon Harris at [email protected] or (630) 871-8387.

Tammy’s Trace, the Midwest Shelter’s new home in Wheaton, which will provide affordable housing for four qualified female veterans, is preparing to welcome its first residents and can use your help. The home, located at 718 S. Naperville Road, has three bedroom units; two of which have been generously sponsored by community organizations. The large unit, which is designed to house two female veterans, was sponsored by the Assistance League of Chicagoland West, which has also offered to sponsor the Tammy’s Trace kitchen through their “Operation New Start” program. The second unit, which will house one female veteran, has been sponsored by the Glen Ellyn Rotary. Both of these organizations donated beds, night stands, dressers, lamps and bedding to accommodate our female veterans. “The kindness of these organizations is much

appreciated as our women will surely benefit from their generous donations,” said MSHV Executive Director Pamela Kostecki. The third unit, also designed for one woman, is still available to be sponsored. The Shelter

“Along with our sponsorships and donations, MSHV has been fortunate in having volunteers come out and assist us in our preparation for the opening of the new home,” added Pam. “We had volunteer groups that selflessly offered to clean the inside as well as the outside of the house and we have partnered with a local Eagle Scout Troop in Wheaton that is currently building lockers for the women. This spring, we hope to have volunteers who are willing to get their hands dirty tending to the yard and the flower beds.” MSHV currently is accepting applications from qualified female veterans who would like to live at Tammy’s Trace. For more information please contact the Shelter at (630) 871-8387 or vial email at [email protected]

Spring 2015

Page 3

MSHV part of area outreach effort to find and help homeless By Nathan Lurz, SURBURBAN LIFE MEDIA On a cold and rainy Wednesday night, Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans founder Bob Adams and Joan Fox, the human services manager at DuPage County Community Services, approached a middle-aged man and woman in a Metra station in West Chicago. Though it was well after 11 p.m., the couple said they were waiting on a train. However, after a few moments of friendly chatter, the two admitted the homeless shelter they had tried to stay at was full. They were hoping to spend the night out of the cold. They were two of DuPage County's unsheltered homeless population, and exactly what Adams and Fox were looking for. "Sometimes it's a matter of people not wanting anyone to know that they are homeless so they don't seek shelter," said Mary Keating. "It's difficult to say what would drive someone to make a particular decision about where they are going to stay when they have no place to stay." Keating is the director for community services at DuPage County and chairwoman of the DuPage County Continuum of Care, which works to develop and support strategies to end homelessness in DuPage. Every two years, volunteers from the nearly 60 organizations involved in the continuum go out into the county to count those they find in the 24hour stores, parks, libraries, alleys and other nooks and crannies of its communities. The count is organized nationally during the last week of January through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Keating said, as a part of a federal program that supports public education for homeless children. DuPage volunteers do their best not only to report those they see and fill out surveys on their behalf, but also give them small gift cards for meals and connect them to other area shelters, said Gail Hoffman, director of the Wheaton Youth Outreach. "It's a good value, not just for HUD, but we can also tell people that even if they're not personally able to use the resources out there tonight, they can in the future," Hoffman said. Those that agree to the survey provide information on their genders – including transsexual – ethnicity, whether they are parenting children, veteran status or have been in a rehab or detox program. All that is valuable information for those trying to figure out who make up these homeless communities. Over the last several years, local police departments have become vital to the process, Adams said, pointing them to areas the unsheltered could be staying. Some, like West Chicago police sergeant Mike Zepeda, who volunteered to lead Adams and Fox around that night, even knew many by name. Even a few years ago, that wasn't the case, Adams said.

MSHV’s “Doc” Adams takes veterans’ plight to Chicago’s TV airwaves Friends of the Midwest Shelter probably are familiar with Bob “Doc” Adams’ role in co-founding the agency back in 2007 and his ongoing positions as MSHV’s board president and clinical director. But readers may not be as aware of the important role that Bob plays as a subject-matter expert in helping spread the message throughout the Chicagoland area about the plight of homeless veterans in our community and what the government and others can do to help. As one example, in November 2014, Bob appeared on WYCC PBS Chicago’s “In The Loop” public affairs program, where he was interviewed by Barbara Pinto (right). Bob shared his story about his own brush with homelessness and how he eventually overcame his issues to help today’s struggling veterans. To watch Bob’s “In The Loop” interview, please visit the MSHV website www.helpaveteran.org.

Before they leave to conduct the biennial count of unsheltered homeless in DuPage County for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, volunteers Bob Adams and Joan Fox discuss logistics Jan. 28 at the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans in Wheaton. PHOTO CREDIT: BILL ACKERMAN, SHAW MEDIA "They've been asking us how they can help," he said. "We've been doing this long enough that they know us and know we're not trying to embarrass them or anything. It's an issue that everyone needs to fight for." By 1 a.m. Thursday morning, Adams and Fox were shining flashlights and headlights down Wheaton alleyways, sharing a chocolate bar pick-me-up and trying – unsuccessfully – to wake a man asleep in his car. "Our policy is usually not to wake them," Adams said. "I think that is prudent here." The two would drive up and down the city's Front Street, going down alleys many don't look twice at and poking around the stage in Memorial Park. They didn't find any unsheltered homeless in Wheaton that cold night, but that doesn't mean they weren't there, Adams said. And as good as the trip can be for funneling care where it was needed most or directing people to places where they could get a warm bed for the night, the count is good for those who volunteer as well, Fox said. "It helps you remember the first time you saw someone sleeping in his spot in a parking garage," she said. "I had some 25 years of experience working with people in poverty, but it's different to experience it on a cold, dark night." ARTICLE COURTESY OF SUBURBAN LIFE MEDIA/SHAW MEDIA

Page 4


Serving our veterans in need: Success comes one client at a time “There is a support system out there. You just need to ask for help.” Robert’s Story My name is Robert and I am a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran who found myself homeless for the first time at the age of 54, after my wife asked for a divorce in the winter of 2013. My wife and I managed to stay together through the Holidays of 2013 leading into 2014, struggling to make our marriage work. Unfortunately, I was asked to leave my home in February of 2014 with nowhere to go. Fortunately, I had a car and employment. I have an extensive employment background working as a security guard. I quickly found a room to rent in Aurora and rented from an elderly woman for about six months when her health suddenly failed in the fall of 2014. My landlady’s family decided that she needed assisted living so they decided to put her home up for sale and I was only given two days to move out. My pride prevented me from turning to a social service agency for help, so I reached out to some of my oldest friends for assistance. That’s when I learned that people you think you can rely on aren’t always there for you when you really need them. I fell into a deep depression

and lost a significant amount of weight due to my stress. I sought spiritual counseling from my parish in Aurora. They provided me with guidance and emotional support. I then attempted to seek emergency shelter so I could have a place to sleep, only to be told that the local shelters could not accommodate my needs because I worked second and third shift.

at the end of the tunnel. I am so thankful for my SSVF Case Manager, Carlie Yacobi, for her patience and putting up with me. I got so frustrated at times with my situation. It felt like every time I took one step forward and began to make progress something would happen and I would get pushed back, not two steps, but four or five steps.

I remember how difficult it was to ask for the help. I really thought I could manage on my own. I registered at the Hines VA Medical Center in the Health Care for Homeless Veterans program and my case worker helped me to understand that I wasn’t asking for help, I had earned the assistance through my service in the Corps. That’s when I found the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans.

Carlie served as my advocate and connected me to Jane Tyschenko, MSHV’s director of programs. I was found eligible for the Miller Affordable Housing Program. After a short time on the waitlist, I moved in on January 23, 2015. I am very pleased with the services and housing so far. I don’t know where I would be, or what would have happened to me if MSHV was not there.

I called the SSVF hotline and got screened and enrolled right away. I was connected to the DuPage County Veterans Assistance Commission, which temporarily paid for me to stay in a local motel so I had a place to sleep during the day.

Things may not be perfect now, but it’s a far cry from where I was six months ago. I am anxious to look back six months from now and see what I’ve accomplished. I have a better outlook on life now. Six months ago I could not say that. Even though asking for help may have been hard at the time, now I know you don’t need to do everything on your own. There is a support system out there. You just need to ask for help.

Things seemed to be coming together after I got connected with MSHV. I could see the light



Steve is a U.S. Navy Veteran who was referred to the Midwest Shelter following a series of health concerns that left him unemployed and in a difficult financial situation. Despite many successful years in his area of expertise, electro-mechanical repair, Steve had been out of work since the summer of 2013 and had not interviewed for a job in over a year. He came to the Veteran Employment Program with an outof-date resume, no cover letter and a general unfamiliarity with the modern online job search process. Steve moved into the Larson home at the peak of the renovation construction project, a time when most new residents would find it challenging to focus on getting their lives back in order. This did not dissuade Steve, however. To avoid the distraction and noise of the construction, he spent several days in the VEP office, working solely on his marketing materials and his job search. Within a matter of weeks, Steve had been invited to three interviews, two of which had to be cancelled because he had accepted an ideal position with the very first company with which he interviewed. “Steve’s experience with MSHV epitomizes what we set out to achieve in reaching the atrisk veterans of our community,” said Laine Shiller, MSHV employment coordinator. “Due to the variety of programs and services we are able to provide, Steve was directly served by four of our main programs.

Daniel, despite being 82 percent blind, was a self-described “hobo,” riding the rails across the country and choosing to sleep outside at forest preserves. He tried not to draw attention to himself, aside from being noticed for being over six feet tall and thin as a rail. Daniel lived this way for about 10 years, except for three years when he lived in subsidized housing in Georgia. Eventually Daniel became tired of sleeping in the rain and was ready to obtain housing.

“He initially was provided intake and referral services through our Supportive Services to Veteran Families program. Through this process, he was deemed to be an excellent fit for the Larson Transitional Program, and was quickly welcomed into the fold there. He then hit the ground running with the Veteran Employment Program, and also received interview clothing through the Freedom Commissary.” Well on his way to self-sufficiency, Steve has proven to be an exceptional leader, a role model for MSHV clients, and a success story that has touched many within the Midwest Shelter organization.

His SSVF case manager assisted Daniel with transferring his SSI account and other accounts to Illinois from California and with applying for food stamps, an RTA disabled free ride pass and subsidized housing wait lists. Daniel is now stably housed with the Housing Authority of LaSalle County. SSVF assisted him by providing his $100 security deposit. With a roof over his head, Daniel has started using Facebook and has reached out to family members who he has not spoken with in many years. When they sent him pictures, he stated “So many children — wow. I don’t feel old. Ha, ha.” He updates his case manager on especially cold winter days, giving thanks for his apartment.

Spring 2015

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Wheaton WWII veteran receives French Legion of Honor award Ed Kregor raises money for Midwest Shelter at his award ceremony By Matt Arado, THE DAILY HERALD

Kregor entered the service in December 1943. His secret missions over France, known as "carpetbagger" missions, occurred from June 12 to Sept. 15 of 1944.

Seventy years ago, in the summer of 1944, a young Air Force pilot named Ed Kregor and a small group of compatriots flew dozens of secret missions in the dead of night, dropping supplies and weapons to the resistance in Nazioccupied France.

During those flights, Kregor and his fellow pilots dropped off supplies and weapons to the resistance groups fighting the German occupation. Sometimes, the carpetbagger pilots dropped British spies from their planes.

The missions were harrowing. They had to be conducted in near-total darkness in a plane that had been painted black. Kregor had to fly dangerously low to the ground so that he could see his targets, which were usually small bonfires. Many times, Kregor could see armored German vehicles lurking near the targets.

"It could be very difficult work," Kregor said. After the war, Kregor worked as a restaurant owner, then went back to school so he could become a high-school English teacher. Later, he worked as a curriculum consultant for the Illinois State Board of Education.

On Sunday, Jan. 11, inside the VFW Post 8081 in Warrenville, the French government formally thanked Kregor for his World War II service by presenting him with the Legion of Honor medal, France's highest honor.

Kregor's wife of 67 years, Nellie, died in 2010. They had four children -- two daughters and two sons. Today, Kregor has 12 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, with a 13th on the way.

"It's overwhelming," said an emotional Kregor, who is now 95 and lives in Wheaton. "I never thought about awards or anything like that all those years ago, but it means so much."

"I know that Nellie is watching from heaven and is very proud of her husband," Mary Perona, Kregor's second daughter, said at the start of the ceremony.

The medal was presented by Vincent Floreani, consul general of France in Chicago.

The Legion of Honor was established in the 19th century by Napoleon Bonaparte, and it recognizes eminent service to the French Republic.

"The French people will never forget all that we owe to America," Floreani told Kregor's family and friends, who packed into the VFW hall for the ceremony. "To us, American veterans are heroes." Turning to Kregor, Floreani added: "Thanks to your service, France has been living in peace for 70 years. Every French person has a special place in his heart for you." Pat Marko, a Warrenville resident and Kregor's daughter, said she was surprised that her father agreed to the ceremony. "He's not someone who's into being honored,"

World War II Veteran Ed Kregor was presented with the Legion of Honor medal, France’s highest honor, in a ceremony at VFW Post 8081 in Warrenville on Jan. 11. Mr. Kregor asked attendees to make donations to MSHV, raising $190 for the Shelter. she said. "He doesn't seek out attention, and he never really talked much about the war. But I'm so thrilled. He's my hero. The best man I know."

Several of the speakers at the ceremony expressed condolences to the people of France in light of the deadly terrorist attack that happened the previous week in Paris. Floreani thanked them for those remarks, saying that they were another sign of the United States and France's "common values." ARTICLE COURTESY OF THE DAILY HERALD

Larson Home gets a makeover The Midwest Shelter’s Marine LCpl. Nicholas Larson Home, which provides transitional housing and supportive services to homeless male veterans, has undergone a renovation, thanks in part to a DuPage County Community Development block grant. The home, located at 119 N. West St. in downtown Wheaton, now has new green siding (left), a wheel-chair accessible ramp (below) and a fully accessible restroom on the first floor.

Midwest Shelter For Homeless Veterans 433 S. Carlton Avenue Wheaton, IL 60187

By The Numbers... Check out the MSHV

2014 Annual Report www.helpaveteran.org

Girl Scout power Girl Scout Troop 42173 of St. Petronille Parish in Glen Ellyn came out in February to deliver “50 Socks of Love” to our veterans. The troop was so inspired after the tour, they came back to MSHV the following week to volunteer. The girls offered to put together large boxes to help us with moving our administration office, Supportive Services for Veteran Families office and the Freedom Commissary to our new location in downtown Wheaton. As if this wasn’t enough, after the boxes were created, the troop asked if they could come back yet again and help MSHV. This time, they offered to assist by packing items in the boxes and moving them to the new building to help the organization save money on moving costs. They also wanted to ensure that we could get the office up and running quickly, so that MSHV can continue helping our veterans in need. Way to go, girls!