Iowa City Nonprofits Receive Federal Funding to Help Homeless Veterans

By Kiran Sood, Reporter

132nd Fighter Wing Chaplin Gabriel Casciato, left, shares a laugh with Veteran and former Army Chaplin Max Meier of West Des Moines before a parade that honors veterans and current members of the armed services on Saturday, June 30, 2012 in Des Moines, Iowa. More than 100 units, floats and bands as well as 2,000 or more marchers are expected to join the roughly hour-long parade. (AP Photo/The Des Moines Register,David Purdy ) NO SALES

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By Ellen Kurt

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Two Iowa City not-for-profit organizations received federal funds to help homeless veterans re-enter the work force.

U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, through the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, awarded Goodwill Industries of the Heartland $200,000 and Shelter House Community Shelter and Transitional Services $105,425.

Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program is a federal program that focuses on finding employment for homeless veterans. The grants can be used to provide services aimed at addressing the challenges homeless veterans face.

The services provided by grantees can include job placement, on-the-job training, career counseling, life skills and money management mentoring as well as help in finding housing.

Steve Bunn, case manager of the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program at Goodwill of the Heartland, said the organization will use the funding to help homeless veterans receive on-the-job training at Goodwill stores in Eastern Iowa, purchase bus passes or gas cards to get to and from work, and find full-time employment.

Bunn said homeless veterans face many barriers when it comes to re-entering the work force including lack of transportation or proper clothing, such as the non-slip shoes needed to work in food service.

Goodwill of the Heartland's program helps about 170 homeless veterans a year.

Kafi Dixon, support services director at the Shelter House, said this is the third year the organization has received funding from the federal grant program. The funds will be put toward job training and placement, she said.

Shelter House has helped place homeless veterans in positions at hotels, hospitals and other companies throughout the Corridor and provides training for a variety of things, including culinary skills and operating a forklift.

"We're honoring the people who have served our country by helping them re-enter into the workforce and continue to be a viable part of the community," Dixon said.

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