ML&L Cares Program Spotlight: National Network Organization for Veterans (NNOV)
About four years ago now Will and I decided to implement the ML&L Cares: Trusted Choice for Charities program. What is this? Our agency will donate $500 each month to a local area non-profit that is referred to us by YOU our clients. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of the charity, a quick description and contact information for the charity.
The name of the charities that are referred to us go before our ML&L Charity committee that consists of a team member from our service, sales and management team and they select one recipient each month. The charities that were not selected stay on our list for the following month. The more times the same charity is referred the more weight it is given before the committee.
If you have a charity you would like to nominate email your nomination to email@example.com!
This month’s recipient is: National Network Organization for Veterans (NNOV)
For July’s MLL Cares donation, we selected the National Network Organization for Veterans or NNOV for short. This organization is close to the heart for many of us at MLL, as several of us in the office have veterans in our own families. After discovering NNOV through some research into veterans organizations in the Lansing area, we all agreed that this was the organization we wanted to work with.
When I reached out to NNOV to get ready to set up the donation and learn more about them, I contacted the founder, CEO, and President of the organization, Tanja Simmons. Tanja is the most wonderfully kind human I’ve met. She is extremely passionate about providing housing and assistance to homeless veterans. The more I spoke with her, the more I learned about her, the organization, and why that passion for veterans was there. Tanja is a veteran herself of over 22 years. She talked about her time in the service and how much she enjoyed it but was saddened to see how many veterans fell onto hard times both mentally and often financially too, after returning home.
I asked Tanja how NNOV was started, and she mentioned that she was in the process of flipping a home to sell, and then thought that instead of selling it, she could help out a fellow veteran in need. The rest is now history and NNOV has grown to partner with other organizations, has built several houses, and is planning to expand and build many more houses across the country. Yes, I did say country. Currently, NNOV is just mainly in the Lansing and Detroit areas but has expanded to include the Indianapolis area as well. Tanja said that her overall dream and goal is to take NNOV nationwide and provide housing and assistance to homeless and at-risk veterans in every state. Since Tanja is also a veteran, this project is very close to her heart.
Many of us have seen individuals on the street with signs that read, “Homeless Veteran, Please Help” or something along those lines. Many of us have also heard that stats about veteran suicide and PTSD rates. NNOV is doing their part to help curb this and get our countries heroes the care and help they deserve. This organization is a non-profit that makes it a mission be an ongoing resource for displaced, homeless, and underprivileged veterans and their families as well. NNOV provides affordable transitional housing that gets veterans off the streets and/or out of the shelters and gives them a foundation to get started. To put some of the reasons why Tanja wanted to help into perspective, according to a 2015 report for the U.S Housing and Urban Development department, over 47,000 veterans are homeless in the United States. That’s too many. Also, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, up to 20% of veterans that served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom suffer from PTSD. That’s just two of our most recent operations so the statistics from older operations are not included.
Now, I’d like to dive a little deeper into exactly how NNOV helps disadvantaged veterans and their families. Previously, I mentioned that Tanja and NNOV help set up transitional living homes for veterans. By this, I mean that they have flipped and fixed up existing homes they’ve purchased, and they are now creating their own homes using shipping containers. Currently they are working on getting land permits in the city of Lansing and in Detroit to set up areas to put these homes. Every single one of these homes comes fully furnished, decorated, and cleaned, and also comes with internet service (this includes with a TV and laptop so that they can be comfortable and have some entertainment, as well as have the ability to research and look for employment if needed). One line from their website really stood out to me about the homes, “Each project is renovated and decorated with the same time and attention that we would put into our own home, because that is what our veterans deserve”. It’s descriptions like this where you can see the duty and level of care that the whole NNOV team puts into their organization and it’s meaning.
Some of you may be thinking, great, they have a house and are off the street, but there’s a lot that goes into a house, how can the veteran keep the home? Is the housing only temporary? While there is a lot that goes into owning and maintaining a house, Tanja and her team have thought about this and have it taken care of! They have partnered with multiple businesses in the areas they’re in which help with the costs of creating and maintaining the homes. The veterans sign a 2-year lease with the option to buy the home afterwards. The veterans are worked with so that the home doesn’t become a burden or a source of anxiety for them. NNOV also maintains the property and provides general maintenance, lawn care, and snow removal. Outside of housing, NNOV also can assist with securing professional consultations for those veterans who may be suffering from PTSD or are having suicidal thoughts.
NNOV’s newest project involved securing a site in collaboration with the Lansing Land Bank on Lansing’s northside. They are currently seeking donations to fund the builder and materials involved in making the home of 5 veterans come to fruition. If you are interested in helping them accomplish this mission, you can donate either through PayPal or by calling 517-749-8735. You can also call either 517-721-1205 or 517-749-8735 if you would be interested in volunteering your time to help NNOV and their cause. Also, if you’d like to see photos of some of the current housing and future housing projects, you can find them at NNOV’s website.
Also, I encourage everyone that reads this to look into attending NNOV’s Annual Veteran Auction and Fundraiser which is taking place September 12th from 5-7 PM. The event will be held at Alfreda Schmidt Community Center, 5825 Wise Road, Lansing, Michigan 48911. The Auction and Fundraiser will have a cash bar, Hors d’Oeuvres, Lite food prepared by Chef Tyrice Simmons, and live music by Jazz Flutist, Brandon Marceal. They will be accepting donations and tickets can be purchased here.
After meeting Tanja, hearing the passion and dedication she has to veterans as a whole and to NNOV was very inspiring. She was such a kind and amazing person and has really gotten this organization to take root in the area and develop a strong foundation. The amount of compassion and care that went into not only the organization, but the homes as a whole is truly inspirational. For all of you that read this blog, I urge you to support this organization in any way that you can and be sure to check out their auction and fundraiser on September 12th as well! A ticket gets you into the auction, concert, food, and a beverage and it’s for a great cause! All in all, the National Network Organization for Veterans is a fantastic non-profit that really helps our veterans get back on their feet as well as a comfortable and safe place to call home. I’ll see you all at the Fundraiser and Auction!
Links and Contact information:
General Phone Number: 517-721-1205
Donation Phone Number/Project Proposal/ and Business Inquiries: 517-749-8735
Ticket for Auction and Fundraiser: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nnov-inc-annual-veteran-auction-fundraiser-feat-brandon-marceal-tickets-382070522217
Pictures of Upcoming Projects: https://www.nationalnov.net/present-housing-projects.html
Future Projects (tiny homes): https://www.nationalnov.net/future-project-for-the-veterans-tiny-homes-communi.html
If you have a local charity that you would like to nominate please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief description of the organization and stay tuned to our social media.
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