All posts by Jennifer Cooper

PVR Bulletin – November 2021

 

 

FALL CONFERENCE ACTIVITIES

This month is The American Legion, Department of Florida Fall Conference. The event will be held at the Renaissance at Sea World in Orlando, FL from November 5-7, 2021. PROJECT: VetRelief will have many opportunities for you to learn how to get involved, hear about the program’s successes, or introduce yourself to our new Case Worker, Lenora!

There will be two introductory Advocate Training classes this year; one of which is an exciting opportunity exclusively for Auxiliary members. During these classes, we will break down the details of the program and Advocate role. If you have attended one of our trainings before, this class is not for you.

For those who are already involved as a VetRelief Advocate, you should have received an email invitation to our special cocktail party that will be hosted by our Board President’s company, RL James, Inc. Bob James has also extended an invitation to his fellow Board Members and our Suicide Prevention Strategic Partners, so we hope that you will take advantage of this unique experience!

Be sure to check all Legion Family general session agendas, as PROJECT: VetRelief has been given the opportunity to provide a program report to all Legion Family entities! We are very happy about this, as it’s the first chance we will be able to present to the Auxiliary.

As always, we will have our spot in the vendor area for you to stop by to say hello or pick up any marketing materials. Since we are the charity of choice for both Jerry and Wanda Brandt, this would be a great time to share any upcoming events in support of their efforts or make a contribution to their fundraising project! – We hope to see you all there!


APPROACHING 1,000 VETERANS SERVED!

We are very excited to share with you that PROJECT: VetRelief is trending to reach a huge benchmark this month – assisting 1,000 veterans with financial support!

Each year, our program has been able to help more and more service members and their families. However, we are only able to continue this much-needed support through the donations we receive from the Legion Family, corporations, and individuals.

THANK YOU to our sponsors, volunteer advocates, and all those who believe in our mission, and continue to dedicate their time, energy, and support to our program! It takes us all working together to meet the demand of our veteran community. It’s because of you that we can be just that!


ADVOCATE INTEREST FORM

Calling all trained VetRelief Advocates – An email has gone out to our entire VetRelief Advocate database to ask if you are interested in continuing your volunteer role, or to be removed from our contact list. This is important because, after Fall Conference, the Advocate interview will become a part of our financial assistance process again. After January 1st, this will be mandatory.

For those who are attending Fall Conference, we have a special opportunity for you to join us for a cocktail party to learn more. To ensure we have enough food and drinks, please RSVP to your invitation. If you feel that you should have received an invitation and didn’t, please contact Jennifer Cooper, jcooper@floridalegion.org.

PVR Bulletin – October 2021

GOLF TOURNAMENT WAS A HUGE SUCCESS!!

The 8th Annual PROJECT: VetRelief Golf Tournament was held on Monday, September 27th at the beautiful Bella Collina Golf Course in Monteverde, FL. At approximately 8:30 AM, after attendees stood at attention for the national anthem, roughly 124 golfers were on their way as they listened to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”.

PVR Board President, Bob James, hosted corporate partners, vendors, and friends to a fun-filled day of golf. Participants were able to compete in the Wheatley Realty fastest hole contest and had an opportunity to take away $10,000 cash for the hole-in-one prize. But, the most amazing part was that everyone came together for one sole purpose… to support Florida’s veterans and their families.

Mr. James was able to meet his fundraising goal, and revealed the ‘BIG CHECK’ written for $65,000 to PROJECT: VetRelief during the awards banquet! This is a record-setting donation and is ALL net proceeds that directly benefit our mission.

We are grateful to Mr. James and his wife, Rita, and the entire RL James, Inc. team for their continued support of our organization, as they have been a tremendous part of our program’s overall success! Additionally, we are thankful to all the sponsors and players for their contributions to our mission. From the amazing volunteers who pitched into the awesome Bella Collina staff, it sure was one successful event!!


WELCOME TO THE TEAM, LENORA!

Please help us welcome Lenora James to the PVR Team! She started mid-September as our Veterans Case Worker and has already made an impact on our veteran community.

Lenora has always loved working with people and helping others in her daily and professional life. When the opportunity came for Lenora to consider our program, it felt like a natural fit. As a Navy wife and Coast Guard mother, Lenora recognizes the importance of support programs for military servicemembers as they make lifestyle transitions throughout their life. Her family has had to experience many transitions and had to move several times.

 

 


FALL CONFERENCE ACTIVITIES

Fall Conference is coming up, and there will be plenty of opportunities for you to join us to learn about the program or introduce yourself to our newest Team Member, Lenora!

There will be two Introductory Advocate Trainings this year. We are so excited that we have the opportunity to hold a special class for Auxiliary members on Friday afternoon. Details on both classes will be shared through the Legion and Auxiliary agendas.

For the first time ever, we will be presenting during all Legion Family General Sessions. Be sure to attend those meetings to hear our successes and goals for the year! Please stop by our table in the vendor area to say hello and pick up materials to take back with you to the Post.

We are looking forward to seeing each and every one of you there!


PVR Bulletin – September 2021

 

One of our largest fundraising events for PROJECT: VetRelief, the Annual Golf Tournament hosted by RL James, Inc., is scheduled for Monday, September 27th. This event is crucial to our program and without it would see a financial strain on our Emergency Assistance Program!

Golfers will enjoy a premier experience at the Bella Collina Golf Course, located in Monteverde, FL, and should expect a day filled with fun and many chances to win some cool prizes while staying safe.

Although the tournament is currently sold out, you can still participate. We will feature the Silent Auction online again this year. You do not have to be present to participate and anyone can bid on these items. Check it out using the link below:

>> WWW.PVRGOLF.ORG <<

We have a few volunteer positions available. If you’d like to come and help out, please contact Jennifer Cooper at 407-295-2631. Volunteers can expect to help with golfer registration, work a contest hole, or assist with our silent auction. Hope to see you there!


THE BRANDT’S CHOOSE PVR

Newly elected Florida Legion Department Commander and Florida Auxiliary President, Jerry and Wanda Brandt, chose to support PROJECT: VetRelief for their fundraising efforts during their one-year term in office.

Both Jerry and Wanda are passionate about assisting Florida’s veterans in all capacities! In addition to collecting funds, Commander Brandt would like to see our program enhance our directory of service organizations and ensure our Legion Posts have access to them. Although PROJECT: VetRelief has already started collecting this information, it’s currently provided to Advocate Training Attendees only.

Please join them in their efforts in providing the necessary support our veteran community needs. The Auxiliary has requested all Units to use the donation form when submitting your donations for President Wanda Brandt’s charity. For those supporting Commander Jerry Brandt, please ensure your checks are made payable to PROJECT: VetRelief, and “Commander’s Charity” is marked on the memo line.

If you are planning an event, we would like to hear all about it so we can promote it in our monthly newsletters, on the PROJECT: VetRelief website and Facebook page. We also have promotional materials that we can send for your events. Contact Jennifer Cooper by sending an email to jcooper@floridalegion.org with all of the
details!

PVR Bulletin – August 2021

 

CONGRATULATIONS TO JERRY BRANDT on becoming the 2021-2022 Department Commander for The American Legion, Department of Florida!

We were delighted to learn that he has chosen PROJECT: VetRelief as his charity for his Commander’s Project. Any donation marked as “Commander’s Charity”  will count towards his efforts. Commander Brandt has set a goal to raise $50,000 during his one-year term. Legion Posts are asked to make a one-time donation or hold fundraising event(s) to help him reach his goal.

If you are planning an event for PROJECT: VetRelief, we can help promote it. Contact Jennifer Cooper by sending an email to jcooper@floridalegion.org with all of the details!


CONVENTION RECAP

It was great being able to see some familiar faces during our Department Convention this past month. There were plenty of activities, classes, and presentations for you to partake in. Here are just a few of our highlights:

  • Collected $112,083 in Legion Family donations ($54,500 from Home at Last; $32,163 from SAL; $17,800 from Legion; and $7,620 from ALR)
  • Provided program updates, accomplishments, and future plans during the Legion, Sons of the American Legion and Legion Riders’ general sessions
  • Trained new VetRelief Advocates

Additionally, the Florida American Legion Auxiliary elected Wanda Brandt as their next Department President. We are excited that she chose to support PVR as her project. Like us, her passion is to keep veterans off the streets; which has been our primary focus since 2014. The majority of our funds have gone towards housing assistance; like rent, mortgage, or HUD-VASH vouchers to keep
veterans within their own homes. We are extremely thrilled that the Auxiliary will be joining our mission to continue to provide this type of service to Florida’s veterans and their families!

Lastly, we are grateful for PDC William ‘Rick’ Johnson’s support over the last two years. He increased program awareness within the Legion Family and local communities, and raised over $300,000! THANK YOU, Rick! We are looking forward to having you as a Board of Directors and helping us continue to fundraise.


THANK YOU, HOME AT LAST

It was an honor to be selected by the folks from Home at Last to receive a portion of their funds as they dissolved their organization. They donated $54,500 to PROJECT: VetRelief to support veterans through financial hardships! Members of their Board of Directors are also affliated with Legion Post 55 in Clermont. THANK YOU!!

PVR Bulletin – May 2021

Florida Legion Riders… The Road to #EndVeteranSuicide!

For the entire month of April, the Florida Legion Riders fully devote themselves to support PROJECT: VetRelief’s Suicide Prevention Initiative through their Round Robin. Riders are encouraged to join forces to rack up miles as they ride to End Veteran Suicide. All their efforts are translated into a pointing system to award the Top District with the coveted trophy.

As a part of that event, over 160 Legion Riders signed up to attend a week-long motorcycle ride called the Unity Ride. They divided into two groups, or routes, to cover as much ground as possible. They explored Florida’s less traveled roads and each Rider logged over 1,000 miles. Along the way, nearly 40 American Legion Posts opened their doors to allow them to rest, eat and contributed to their cause.

At the end of the week, both routes met at American Legion Post 10 in Kissimmee, FL to celebrate their accomplishments at the State Rally. Other Riders joined in their celebration for a full day of music, food and fun!

ALR Chairman and PVR Board Vice President, Jim Wineland, set a goal to raise more than the $60,000 they received during last year’s virtual event. We are still tallying the results from all their hard work, but we can officially say they have more than surpassed that mark!!

Both routes found ways to raise additional cash by doing things like engaging in friendly bidding wars for the “It’s Jim’s Fault” patches, or we even heard there were pushup contests.

The Florida American Legion Riders have been one of PROJECT: VetRelief’s largest supporters throughout the years and have always taken on any challenge, or competition, to support veterans in any capacity. We certainly are grateful for all their hard work and dedication they continually provide for our veteran community!

And, although their motto is “For the Cause, Not the Applause”, we think they truly deserve a standing ovation for what they have been able to accomplish!!

DONATE NOW: http://bit.ly/URdonate

 


Department Convention… Getting Back to “Normal”

During the upcoming American Legion, Department of Florida Convention in July, we will be revealing how we will ease back into our normal application process, provide an update on our
program’s growth, and introduce you to our strategic partners through the Suicide Prevention Initiative.

The coronavirus pandemic has made things somewhat chaotic this past year, and we know that’s putting it lightly! Thankfully, our program was able to make quick decisions, adapt to the new
CDC guidelines, and still meet the increased demand of our veteran community.

As a result of that, we were forced to forego the VetRelief Advocate interview portion of the financial assistance process and our program is now facing a shortage of funds. As the world continues to open back up and things become more safe, we need to get back to our “normal”; focusing on our fundraising, and relying on our Advocates again.

Our VetRelief Advocates mean a lot to us, and we are so eager to see each and every one of you! Please be sure to be on the look out for our Convention activities, classes and presentations.

We hope to see you there!

PVR Bulletin – April 2021

Florida Legion Riders… Looking to surpass last year’s total of $60,734 to end veteran suicide! 

The Florida Legion Riders kicked off their registration for this year’s Unity Ride and State Rally. This event is a week-long motorcycle ride geared towards raising funds and awareness for PROJECT: VetRelief’s Suicide Prevention Initiative.

Last year’s event was altered due to the coronavirus pandemic. The annual in-person event was switched to a virtual ride. However, the Legion Riders knew their veteran community was counting on them and took on the challenge and was still able to raise over $60,000. They want to raise more this year, and it will take your help for them to do so!

The Unity Ride will be split into two routes: North and South. Each route will include a Meet & Greet on April 18th and officially begin the next day. The NORTH ROUTE will start in Pensacola and the SOUTH ROUTE in Marathon, FL. Both routes will stop at Posts along the way collecting donations and will end in Kissimmee on Friday, April 23rd. Hotels can be booked through AAA by calling Kelly Krupinsky at 904-543-6866.

We hope everyone will sign up and join the Legion Riders in their efforts to end veteran suicide. Once you’re registered, we encourage you to create your fundraising page. The more funds you raise the more COOL PRIZES you’ll earn.

If you are unable to attend the actual ride, we will have the Virtual Rider ($5) option. You can ride at least 22 miles and post a photo on your social media account using #iRideforthe22. Virtual Riders will be eligible for the COOL PRIZES, too.

The State Rally will be on Saturday, April 24th at Post 10 in Kissimmee, FL. Tickets are $20 each and can be purchased using the registration link. You can still also raise funds and earn the COOL PRIZES. Please note, if you register for the Unity Ride, entry to the State Rally is also INCLUDED. There is no need to purchase a Rally Ticket, too.

Register Now

 


Challenge 22 Events… Kudos to Board Members on Their Events 

Thank you for everyone who attended last month’s Challenge 22 Events at American Legion Post 69 in Avon Park and Jacksonville Beach hosted by the 5th District. Two successful events to raise awareness for veteran suicide!

Both events were well attended and included vendors from Veteran Service Organizations and companies who provided Veteran benefits. Additionally, they each featured an awareness walk for Veteran suicide, attendees heard from expert speakers explaining warning signs and symptoms of mental health, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).Many of our SPI strategic partners were also in attendance.

Congratulations to Board Members, Jim Wineland and Larry Roberts, and their teams for putting together such great events!

 

 

 

 

PVR Bulletin – March 2021

Welcome to the Team…Commander Johnson and Dr. Janell Royster!!

We are excited to announce that the PROJECT: VetRelief Team has grown! This past month, we officially welcomed American Legion, Department of Florida’s Commander, William ‘Rick’ Johnson and Dr. Janell Royster, a psychologist and a Florida Licensed Mental Health Counselor.

Historically, the Commander has been invited to our Board Meetings as a non-voting guest. However, our Board felt they would benefit from the dedication and devotion that Commander Johnson displays for our veteran community. With him on our Team, helping to spread the PVR and SPI mission, we believe his impact will greatly increase our resources – while “keeping the fun – in Fundraising”.


Dr. Janell Royster is an individual who is extremely passionate and motivated towards ending veteran suicide. We are excited to tap into her energy and expertise! Dr. Royster works with Dan Jarvis & the 22ZERO team, one of our SPI Strategic Partners. Our SPI Committee now has
five (5) members, and with this new addition, we will add a level of professional experience that we feel will become instrumental, positive and impactful!

Please help us welcome them both to our team!


Challenge 22 Events… Raising Funds and Awareness to End Suicide

It is PROJECT: VetRelief’s goal to raise awareness about the staggering statistic on veteran suicide through various Challenge 22 events. Whether it’s a ruck walk, educational seminar or speaking engagement, there’s no shortage of opportunities to alert our communities on this serious issue our veterans are facing.

These Challenge 22 events are designed to encompass fundraising, creating awareness and educating our communities on the importance of mental health within our veteran communities and understanding the severity of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Our hope is to have at least 12 Challenge 22 events this calendar year to promote the mission of SPI, and since next year will be 2022, we are shooting for 22 events!

Take a look at the upcoming opportunities to make your impact on ending veteran suicides.

MARCH 13

Post 69 Challenge 22 Event
Avon Park, FL
2 mile walk, vendors, silent auction, 50/50, door prizes, raffles and crafts to raise awareness for
veteran suicide.

MARCH 27

District 5 Challenge 22 Event
Jacksonville Beach, FL
2.2 mile walk on the Jax Beach, followed by food, entertainment, and vendors at Legion Post 129

Registration: $22/walker
Registration Link: give.floridalegion.org/JaxChallenge22

 

APRIL 19 – 23

ALR Unity Ride Kick Off
Entire State of Florida
Week long event with two Ride Routes (North & South) travelling to raise awareness for veteran
suicides. Anyone can participate, and there will be a virtual element again this year!Learn more on the event: http://bit.ly/UnityRideInfo

Join the Unity Ride: http://bit.ly/URregister2021

 

APRIL 24

ALR State Rally
Post 10, Kissimmee
Celebrate with the Legion Riders after their week-long journey raising funds and awareness for
veteran suicide. Enjoy food, entertainment and camaraderie!

Get Tickets: http://bit.ly/URregister2021

PVR Bulletin – February 2021

Challenge 22 Events… Raising Funds and Awareness to End Suicide

It is PROJECT: VetRelief’s goal to raise awareness about the staggering statistic on veteran suicide through various Challenge 22 events. Whether it’s a ruck walk, educational seminar or speaking engagement, there’s no shortage of opportunities to alert our communities on this serious issue our veterans are facing.

These Challenge 22 events are designed to encompass fundraising, create awareness and educate our communities on the importance of mental health within our veteran communities and understanding the severity of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Over the past couple of years, we have had several Posts host events to further our mission and join our efforts to put an end to veteran suicide. in fact, a check for $30,350 was presented to the Suicide Prevention Initiative (SPI) earlier this month from various Challenge 22 events, including contributions from Post 63, Post 243, Post 22, and Post 110. Kudos to Board Member Kurt Gies and their team for a successful Challenge 22 event, even with overcoming new obstacles pertaining to the virus!

Our hope is to have at least 12 Challenge 22 events this calendar year to promote the mission of SPI, and since next year will be 2022, we are shooting for 22 events!

Take a look at the upcoming opportunities we have coming up for
you to make your impact on ending veteran suicides.

 

Emergency Assistance Cases Still Continue to Climb

PROJECT: VetRelief continues to be in high demand, which means we are helping more and more of Florida’s veterans each year.


When the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020, PROJECT: VetRelief was able to take action and provide life-saving assistance to our service members by keeping a roof over their head, lights turned on, or food on the table. In fact, we have been able to help 169 veterans and their families avoid an eviction so that they could focus on staying healthy during this deadly pandemic!

Truth is, since COVID-19 our funding has gone out a lot faster than it has come in. We will not be able to continue this level of support without your help!

The American Legion, Department of Florida Commander, William ‘Rick’ Johnson has recognized the true impact the emergency assistance program has on our veteran community and chose to extend his efforts to support the
program.

We hope that you will participate in his Challenge to the Legion Family and help him raise $225,000 by the end of June. He‘s almost there, as he only needs $8,510.67 more!

Donations can be made online (www.projectvetrelief.org/donate), mailed into the Department Headquarters, or given through the Commander’s Charity.

Our veterans are counting on us working together to be there for them!

PVR Bulletin – January 2021

The Challenge is On… Will the Commander Sing Karaoke?

Commander Johnson is issuing a challenge to all American Legion Posts to see who can raise the most funds between now and the District Constitutional Conferences in the spring.

He is certain that the entire Legion Family can step up and provide the necessary funding the program needs to continue to support veterans through the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, he is so confident that he set a goal to raise $30,000 for PROJECT: VetRelief by April 30, 2021. 

Every American Legion Post is encouraged to raise a minimum of
$100 and the Post that raises the most funds will receive celebrity
treatment during our next Annual Department Convention, hopefully in June 2021!

As a bonus, if we are able to reach or surpass his goal of $30,000,
Commander Johnson will take the stage at Convention in costume and sing karaoke. We know you’d like to see Commander Johnson belt out his favorite patriotic tune!

Remember, Commander Johnson chose PROJECT: VetRelief as one of his charities of choice. All efforts raised through this Challenge will also count towards his Commander’s Charity goal of $225,000.

Although this is all fun and games, the bottom line is… Florida’s veterans need you to help them through their difficult times – and we know that Florida’s American Legion Family can rise up to
any challenge and be that support for our veterans and their families!

CHALLENGE DETAILS

GOAL: $30,000 by April 20, 2021
Objective: Raise a minimum of $100 per Post. Highest fundraising Post will receive celebrity treatment at Convention in June.

Top Fundraising Post will receive:

  • Complimentary room nights at Department Convention in June
  • Table at Commander’s Banquet
  • Red Carpet walk and introduction during General Session
  • Preferred seating during General Session
  • Receive inaugural PROJECT: VetRelief Trophy

Posts who raise the $100 minimum
will receive a commemorative plaque to
display at the Post.


Upcoming Fundraising Events – Mark Your Calendars

Exciting News! Our calendar is starting to book up again with a variety of fundraising activities to raise funds for both our
Emergency Assistance and Suicide Prevention programs. We are grateful to our Legion Family for doing what they can to support PROJECT: VetRelief, even through a pandemic!

If you are hosting an event, we want to hear about it so we can help promote it! Please contact Jennifer Cooper at 407-295-2631 or
jcooper@floridalegion.org with the details.

PVR Bulletin – December 2020

COMMANDER JOHNSON IS CHALLENGING YOU…WILL YOU ACCEPT?

As you may be aware, Commander William ‘Rick’ Johnson chose PROJECT: VetRelief as one of his charities of choice for the second year in a row! We have a long way to go in order to surpass last year’s efforts of raising over $116,000. Additionally, the Commander heard that the Legion Family from Post 359 will be holding their month-long fundraiser in January.

With that, Commander Johnson is issuing a challenge to all American Legion Posts to see who can raise the most funds between now and the District Constitutional Conferences in the spring.

He is certain that the entire Legion Family can step up and provide the necessary funding the program needs to continue to support veterans through the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, he is
so confident that he set a goal to raise $30,000 for PROJECT: VetRelief by April 30, 2021.

Every American Legion Post is encouraged to raise a minimum of $100 and the Post that raises the most funds will receive celebrity treatment during our next Annual Department Convention, hopefully in June 2021!

As a bonus, if we are able to reach or surpass his goal of $30,000, Commander Johnson will take the stage at Convention in costume and sing karaoke. We know you’d like to see Commander Johnson belt out his favorite patriotic tune!

Although this is all fun and games, the bottom line is… Florida’s veterans need you to help them through their difficult times – and we know that Florida’s American Legion Family can rise up to any challenge and be that support for our veterans and their families!


INCREASED VETERAN SUPPORT = MORE FUNDING

PROJECT: VetRelief continues to be in high demand, which allows us to help more and more of Florida’s veterans each year. As you can see in the chart below, we have more than DOUBLED our total number of approved cases during the first 4 months of this fiscal year! 

When the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020, PROJECT: VetRelief was able to take action and provide life-saving assistance to our service members by keeping a roof over their head, lights turned on, or food on the table. In fact, we have been able to help 147 veterans and their families avoid an eviction so that they could focus on staying healthy during this deadly pandemic! 

Truth is, since COVID-19 our funding has gone out a lot faster than it has come in. We will not be able to continue this level of support without your help! 

Would you be willing to make a special tax-deductible year-end donation of $25, $50, $100 or whatever you can afford to help us support these service members through their difficult times?

Donations can be made online (www.projectvetrelief.org/donate), mailed into the Department Headquarters, or given through the Commander’s Charity.