When Marine Corps veteran Kenneth Franklin lost his warehouse job in February and his home in May, his situation seemed hopeless.
“I didn’t know what to do,” he says. “I was calling everyone and their dog, but I wasn’t getting anywhere.”
Upon seeking help at the Coffee Bunker, a Tulsa nonprofit supporting veterans, Franklin found himself on a phone call with Volunteers of America Oklahoma.
Since receiving VOAOK’s help in July, Franklin has gained not only a new apartment, but also a job with Green Country Steel. “(VOAOK) has been so instrumental,” he says. “They gave my family and I a voucher for jackets, and when I was in-between paychecks, they helped with gas and food.”
But the organization’s support goes beyond financial assistance. “They are there to help you succeed in life,” Franklin says. “They have so many resources that — even if they can’t help you — they’ll find someone who will.”
In August, VOAOK was awarded the Veterans Administration Transition in Place grant, which will provide $1 million in support of housing veterans experiencing homelessness in Tulsa throughout the next three years. “The long-term benefit of this grant is we’ll be able to house these individuals so they can take care of their basic, personal needs and focus on employment,” says John Bierman, VOAOK director of veteran housing. “The goal is for them to become independent and self-sufficient, and they’ll need our services.”
According to Director of Veterans Services Josh Arndt, housing is the No. 1 obstacle VOAOK clientele faces. The organization doesn’t only assist veterans, though. It has seven programs of support that also assist the elderly and people with disabilities in various ways.
“I used to be an angry person, and through this experience, I’ve just tried to lead a more cleansing life,” Franklin says. “One kind gesture can make or break someone — you get humbled real quickly. Appreciate everything you have because we’re all in the same boat.”