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Meals needed for college volunteers

Once again the national group Students Today, Leaders Forever has chosen Volunteers of America as a stop on their Spring Break tour.

These students have paid to travel the country doing service projects instead of laying on the beach for Spring Break, and we want them to feel welcome. But we need your help!Every year, you help feed these students who provide invaluable assistance to our programs. This year we have three groups staying at the Highland Center. The groups will arrive the evening and then work the next morning.

March 3-4: John Carroll University (30 students)
March 10-11: University of Illinois (40 students)
March 16-17: University of Iowa (40 students) – lunch is covered!

Each group has requested breakfast and bagged lunches. The group from Iowa also asked if we could provide dinner when they arrive.

Meals do not have to be extravagant. Cereal/bagels for breakfast and sandwiches they can take on the bus to their next location will be great.

Contact Tricia Jowell at tricia.jowell@voanorthla.org to volunteer!

Elderly Apartments accepting applications

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South Pointe Place, the new elderly housing complex of Volunteers of America is now officially accepting applications.

The 50-unit complex will house low income seniors, who can live independently. Located at 1133 South Pointe Parkway in Shreveport (behind the Shreve City Walmart), South Pointe should open later this spring.

All units are one-bedroom and include a living area, kitchen with granite counter tops, refrigerator, pantry, built in closets, and heat and air. Community rooms will be located on each floor, and the facility is non-smoking.

As well, the Volunteers of America Adult Day Health Center will move to the complex and be housed on the first floor.

Rent will be based on the family’s income.  Tenants will pay 30% of monthly adjusted income for the family.

To qualify for the apartment, resident households must include at least one person who is 62 years of age or more at the time of occupancy and whose household adjusted income is at or below $20,400.

Prior to completion, applications will be mailed to those on the waiting list first and then to others.  Contact Linda Jarrell at 318-221-8404 ext. 176 for more information.

LEAP Tutors needed

Local fourth and eighth graders need the community’s help to get ready for the LEAP test. It only takes two hours a week and you can make a huge difference.

Volunteers of America of North Louisiana is seeking tutors for students who will be taking the LEAP test in April. Tutors will be assigned to a particular student, and the pairs will review skills the students will need for the test. A workbook is provided.

Last year, those who received the extra help were more likely to pass than their peers at the same school.

Tutoring begins Feb. 17 and will take place Tuesdays and Thursdays until April 30. We will not have tutoring during the first LEAP testing week (March 16- 20) and Spring Break week (April 6- 10). Volunteers can choose to tutor at one of the following places in Shreveport:

  1. Lakeshore Middle School (1807 San Jacinto Avenue)- 3:00 to 4:00 PM; 8th grade students
  2. Forest Hill Elementary (2005 Francais Dr)- 3:30 to 4:30 PM; 4th grade students
  3. Travis St. Downtown LightHouse (802 Travis Street)- anytime between 4:00 to 5:30 PM; 4th and 8th grade students.

Because of the testing format this year and the recent change in school curriculum, we are requiring all interested tutors to attend a one-hour LEAP tutoring training on Thursday, Feb. 12, at either noon OR 5:15 p.m. at the Highland Center, 520 Olive Street, Shreveport (parking is available in the back parking lot off Stephens Street).

If you are interested contact Tricia Jowell at Tricia.Jowell@voanorthla.org or call 318-221-2669.

LightHouse alumni share advice, stories

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It’s been 20 years since Myron Harris was spending Saturdays at the LightHouse, but he still remembers the lessons he learned.

“Focus and keep aiming high,” he said.

He was among about two dozen alumni who came back for the annual LightHouse reunion to share updates on their life and some advice with the current group of seniors.

Harris works for State Farm Insurance, traveling the country after disasters, and he is thrilled to know the LightHouse is there for the next generation of children who need a little direction.

His advice to them: “Be a blessing to someone else.”

The Rev. Don Webb began the program of lessons learned and New Years Resolutions with a childhood story about a Christmas Pageant gone wrong when the innkeeper said there was plenty of room. But he said someone started to laugh and all the children knew it would be OK.

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Alumnus Myron Harris catches up with CEO Chuck Meehan.

“If things go wrong this year, laugh it off and love life anyway,” he said.

The students followed with often short but poignant advice: “Do better.” “Don’t give up.” “Be on time.”

Most of the students are still in college, and the dangers of procrastination seemed to be the lesson learned as many resolved to avoid it in 2015. Sarah Noe, a senior at LSUS, presented her Dean’s List report card as proof of what can be accomplished with planning ahead.

Noe will complete her psychology degree in May and said The LightHouse inspired her to her chosen profession. She hopes to be a school psychologist and encourage others.

“You can start from nothing and you can be someone,” she said.

Shop with a DocHospital sponsors Christmas shopping spree

Confusion, excitement and disbelief all flashed on the faces of students from the Communities In Schools program Saturday at this year’s Shop with a Doc.

Once again, Specialists Hospital Shreveport generously donated a $300 shopping spree to fifty of the neediest children Volunteers of America serves. The shopping adventure was a surprise to the children, who couldn’t figure out why they were at Target.

“I thought maybe we were going to eat first,” said Toyreyun, 10.

But it didn’t take long for them to figure out how to use their gift cards. Each child was paired with a Specialist volunteer to do their shopping, and by the end of the morning, 12 new bikes lined the front of the store. And shopping carts were piled high with new shoes, clothes, dolls and gifts.

Tears filled some of the volunteers’ eyes as they heard stories of children who recently lost a parent and watched others put basics like bread and coffee in their carts.

“At Christmas it’s our pleasure to share joy,” Dr. William Overdyke said. “We look forward to it every year.”

Quintoria, 9, was especially happy for the chance to buy a robe for her mom and clothes for her new baby brother.

“I love everybody that came,” she said. “I thank them all.”

Flip through the Gallery for more pictures…

 

Simple Church renovates Veterans shelter

 

 

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The Veterans Safe Haven feels a lot more like home instead of a shelter, after The Simple Church spent a morning painting and decorating.

Inspired by her best friend’s father, who was a Veteran, member Shannon Nichols pulled together three small groups to do the work at the shelter, which houses Veterans who had been living on the street.

“We wanted to do something good in her dad’s name,” Nichols said. “Our pastor challenged us to give as much as we have been given. I could never do that, but I can do something.”

Nichols originally just googled Veteran services in Shreveport and found Volunteers of America. She toured the facility, which just moved to a larger location and needed some cosmetic improvements.

Within a couple of weeks, she rallied class members who owned a painting company, collected artwork and solicited donations to buy lamps and rugs.

The result: a warm, welcoming living area and some homey touches for each of the 23 bedrooms.

2015 Tour Locations announced

New locations have been added to the schedule for our 2015 Cherish the Children of God tours!

You will still have the chance to see our programs and hear from those you have served, but across a wider variety of programs. In particular we added the McAdoo, which provides housing and support for people with Mental Illness, and the new Veterans Safe Haven, a short-term shelter for those Veterans living on the streets.

As always, each tour will only last an hour and we will not ask for money. All we ask is that you come and see the good work being done for our children, seniors, veterans and people with disabilities.  Here is the schedule:

 

Date Time Program Address
Jan. 7 11 a.m. McAdoo 1002 Texas St.
Feb. 4 11 a.m. Adult Day Center 1700 Buckner Sq.
March 4 11 a.m. Veterans Facility 453 Jordan St.
April 1 11 a.m. Highland Center 520 Olive St.
4 p.m. Veterans Safe Haven 725 Jordan St.
June 3 11 a.m. LightHouse – Bossier 2101 Scott St.
July 1 11 a.m. Veterans Facility 453 Jordan St.
Aug. 5 11 a.m. Homeless Outreach 2350 Levy St.
Sept. 2 11 a.m. Ballington Center at
South Pointe Place
1133 South Pointe Parkway
4 p.m. Highland Center 520 Olive St.
Oct. 7 11 a.m. LightHouse- Bossier 2101 Scott St.
Nov. 4 11 a.m. Veterans Facility 453 Jordan St.
Dec. 2 11 a.m. LightHouse 802 Travis St.

The Shreveport-Bossier Community came out in force to support our Veterans yesterday! Here’s a 30-second video recapping all the smiles.

SONY DSCFor Wayne, the Veterans Transitional Living Program was set up perfectly.

Follow the rules. Be in on time. Take advantage of the opportunity.

It was also his fourth attempt at treatment and the first time he was really ready for a change.

Wayne grew up in Philadelphia, and upon high school graduation he had a choice: military or the streets.

So at 17, he packed up for boot camp.

The Army sent him to Korea, where he started drinking in part to deal with homesickness.

He trained in communications then as a mechanic and finally in personnel, where he was tapped to make death notifications and serve at funerals. He would sometimes dream about reciting the speech he had to give at notifications.

His drinking got worse. It cost him three marriages and eventually he left the military.

Wayne didn’t even want to be called a Veteran. So he took off and wandered from city to city until he landed at a homeless shelter in Texarkana.

“I was going to just give in to my addiction,” he said. “I wasn’t a bad person. I just couldn’t deal with the stuff in my head.”

But the staff there saw something in him and talked him into going to the VA and then to Volunteers of America’s Transitional Housing Program.

The 56-bed program provides the basics of food, shelter and support, while physical and mental health needs are taken care of by the VA. All clients are required to save a portion of their income and either work, go to school or volunteer during the day.

Between the structure of the program and the staff, Wayne knew he could succeed.

“If they care about me, I thought maybe I can learn to care about myself,” he said.

He worked the program and now has his own car, is working on certifications for heating and air conditioning repair and even has plans to visit his mom at Christmas.

“Nothing’s going to stop me now.”

Veterans to benefit from Independence Bowl Foundation grant

IBLogoCMYKVolunteers of America is one of four local organizations chosen by The Independence Bowl Foundation has chosen four local nonprofit organizations as recipients for the 2014 Charitable Donation Program.

Through the Charitable Donation Program, $1 from each ticket sold to the 2014 Duck Commander Independence Bowl – including team allotments – will be distributed evenly
among the four recipients. Each recipient will receive a minimum of $5,000.

From Nov. 5 – 7, they are sponsoring a ticket event where they will donate an extra $5-$10 for each ticket sold. This year’s game will be held 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 27.

“The Independence Bowl Foundation strives to support non-profit organizations in our community,” 2014 Duck Commander Independence Bowl chairman Paul Pratt said. “We are elated for the four recipients of the 2014 Charitable Donation Program, which were chosen because of their commitment to bettering the Shreveport-Bossier community, as well as northwest Louisiana.”

The other organizations are Providence House, Martin Luther King Health Center and NWLA Foster to Adopt Parent Association.

Money donated to Volunteers of America of North Louisiana will support our Veterans Transitional Living Program, which assists homeless veterans return to independent living.

The Charitable Donation Program began in 2013 as an effort to enhance efforts by local non-profit organizations to fill identifiable areas of need within the community.

Tickets to the 2014 Duck Commander Independence Bowl can be purchased by going to duckcommanderindependencebowl.org, or by calling (318) 221-0712 or toll free (888)
414-BOWL.