Heart of Florida United Way received a grant to help veterans who have lost their job due to COVID-19.
Heart of Florida United Way was chosen out of 19 organizations across the country to receive the NFL Bob Woodruff Foundation Salute to Service partnership grant that will provide assistance to more than 25 post-9/11 veterans who have lost income due to the pandemic. United Way dedicated the grant money to Mission United, a collective-impact initiative that helps veterans.
“There are a lot of veterans in our area that either come here when they separate from the military or retire here,” said Norris Henderson, Mission United manager. “What we found out through my staff and myself was that there were a lot of veterans who lost their employment or their hours were severely cut, and it caused them to not be able to make their rental payments.”
Florida has the third-highest number of veterans in the country with 1.44 million in 2019, according to an article in USA Today. With such a high number of veterans living in the state, many reside in the Central Florida area and have taken jobs within the struggling travel industry.
The Orlando area is one of 15 communities that is facing a significant economic impact due to COVID-19, especially since the area has over 281,000 jobs in the hospitality and travel sector, according to a research paper written by the Bob Woodruff Foundation titled, “Veterans and COVID-19: Projecting the Economic, Social, and Mental Health Needs of American’s Veterans.”
Veterans in Orange, Osceola, or Seminole counties can apply online for assistance if they have lost their job or lost significant hours due to the pandemic at https://hfuw.org/bob-woodruff-grant. Veterans are required to show proof of military service, letter from employer about employment status, photo ID, and lease/rental agreement to be eligible for funds up to $2,500.
“We determine what is the amount the veteran gets on a case-by-case basis,” Henderson said. “The biggest factor is in the need.”
The funds given to each veteran to help them stay afloat is given on a first-come, first-serve basis, so eligible veterans are encouraged to apply earlier rather than later.
“Let’s say money runs out. Then, we can refer those veterans to other resources in the area, like the COVID-19 funds from the county,” Henderson said.
The cause is near and dear to Henderson, who is a veteran himself, and has him working on other resources Mission United offers veterans.
“It means a lot to me to help a veteran in need,” Henderson said. “We have had a couple donations here and there so people can reach out, or they can volunteer or they can donate to Mission United.”
Photos Courtesy of Heart of Florida United Way