Gerry Weiss, Erie Times News, February 27, 2015
Original Article: http://www.goerie.com/new-erie-nonprofit-aims-to-help-veterans#
A new local nonprofit aiming to help area veterans will receive assistance today from the U.S. Coast Guard in Erie.
The Veterans Miracle Center-Erie is anticipated to be an agency where qualifying veterans and their families can receive free-of-charge daily life necessities, such as new clothing, housewares and furniture.
The center, 1573 W. 39th St., plans to open in late March or early April, officials there said. The center is expecting to serve nearly 1,000 veterans annually.
About 15 members of Erie’s Coast Guard station will volunteer this morning at VMC-Erie, building and arranging shelving and display areas, and helping with various moving and cleaning tasks, said James Martin, a spokesman with the center.
The center also plans to provide veterans with personal care and hygiene products, house repair items, and new toys for their children and immediate family members.
“VMC-Erie is a destination for our veterans who are struggling to make ends meet, or are disabled and need assistance,” Martin said. “They can come here for hope, honor and help.”
The nonprofit is asking the Erie community and local organizations and companies to volunteer their time and to donate money to the startup agency.
Once the agency is up and running, VMC-Erie also will have representatives available from various veterans service organizations to assist in areas of need.
“The needs for veterans are overwhelming, and the time is now to do all we can to help alleviate the stress and pressure on them,” Martin said. “By providing this help, we believe we can lighten the load so many of them are carrying. We need to be there for them.”
The center will be available by appointment only to veterans who qualify through an agency approved by VMC-Erie to ensure that all proceeds benefit veterans in need.
The Erie Veterans Affairs Medical Center is one of the approved sources, officials said.
VMC-Erie will be operated at first through funding from volunteers, area residents and contributions from Veterans of Foreign Wars organizations. Almost all of the merchandise for the veterans is being donated by major corporations outside the Erie region, Martin said. VMC-Erie is modeled after a similar center in Albany, N.Y. For more information online, go to www.vmcerie.org. GERRY WEISS can be reached at 870-1884 or by e-mail. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ETNweiss.