New DAR Grant Program to Support Homeless Women Veterans

Written by: Ann Dillon, President General
June 21, 2019

I am so pleased to announce a new program and grant funding opportunity that DAR was able to initiate this spring thanks to an incredible bequest to the Society from a DAR member passionate about an important cause.

Vivian’s Outreach to Women is a new program within the Women’s Issues Committee which is focused on providing support to homeless and indigent women veterans. Each year, DAR will award a substantial grant to an organization/shelter that assists homeless women veterans.

DAR is able to launch this important program because of the gift and foresight of DAR member Vivian Luther Schafer. When Mrs. Schafer passed away at 105 years of age, she left in her will provisions for a gift that ultimately provided $4 million to DAR to help support indigent and homeless women. We express our sincere appreciation to Mrs. Schafer for her generous spirit and we are honored to be able to fulfill her wish of helping women in need through the Vivian Luther Schafer Fund for Indigent and Homeless Women.

Supporting our military and veterans is at the foundation of DAR’s efforts and by directing our attention to the fastest growing demographic of the homeless population in America – our female veterans – we are grateful to have the opportunity to align the goals of Vivian Schafer’s bequest to help indigent and homeless women with the opportunity to assist this underserved and growing veteran population.

Military services have dramatically increased the numbers of women in combat and combat support roles.  Recent research notes that women are now 14-17% of the active force and 16-20% of the reserve/guard force depending on service. That then spills over into the number of women veterans who are in need of support after they leave active duty. Sadly, veterans’ shelters are currently in critical need of sheltering women veterans. While the overall population of homeless veterans is decreasing, the number of homeless women veterans is increasing. 

In the inaugural year of the Vivian’s Outreach to Women program, DAR is proud to award the 2019 grants to two organizations committed to serving homeless women veterans. Final Salute, Inc., in Alexandria, VA, and Vetshouse, Inc., in Virginia Beach, VA, were both selected to receive the DAR Vivian’s Outreach Award of $40,000 each.

The grant monies to Final Salute will support the mortgage of their home, called “Karen’s Home,” as well as childcare, food and employment transportation for the women veterans they are serving. The DAR grant monies to Vetshouse will support leasing and renovating a new home for women veterans and 12 new computers for their residents.

We will celebrate the launch of Vivian’s Outreach to Women and the two recipients of the first grants at National Defense Night of the 128th Continental Congress on June 29, 2019.

The new National Vice Chair of Vivian’s Outreach to Women is RADM (retired) Donna Crisp, US Navy. She and her member team of Dr. Sharla Rausch, Dr. Jane Amelon and Nancy Wahineokai should be commended for their diligent research and organization to launch the procedures of the grant program and identify the first shelter recipients.

DAR members and chapters wanting to become involved in the Vivian’s Outreach to Women program on their local level are encouraged to familiarize themselves with organizations and shelters supporting homeless women veterans in their communities. Chapters can establish relationships with the organization and the women it assists and support them through helping with their programs and donating needed supplies. Chapters can make a recommendation of a local organization for the Vivian’s Outreach to Women Award to the National Vice Chair of the program, along with providing information on the work of the organization. Additionally, the National Vice Chair will also independently research and identify deserving organizations for consideration. The National Vice Chair will then annually make a recommendation to the Executive Committee for one organization (or multiple) to be considered for the DAR Vivian’s Outreach Award grant funding.

This new program and grant funding provides an incredible opportunity for the DAR to assist in supporting safe harbors for our nation’s veterans. Please join the Women’s Issues Committee Facebook page for rapid sharing of ideas and success stories, and research the homeless women veteran’s shelters in your local area, so that together we can help support our nation’s heroes.

We hope you can join us for National Defense Night, or watch the online live stream, on Saturday, June 29, 2019, as we welcome representatives from Final Salute and Vetshouse. It will be an honor to recognize the amazing work they do to support this underserved group of veterans and to celebrate how DAR can now contribute to that support with Vivian’s Outreach to Women.

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