By Senior Staff Writer, Donna Ramos
Homelessness is an epidemic throughout the country and veterans unfortunately, make up a large number of these homeless people. THE HUB talks with Vanessa Ewing who not only sees the need for housing for these veterans but she has turned her home into a place of shelter for them under her company Open Arms United. Vanessa Ewing is a Toledo native who has owned various businesses in Fairfield with a hair salon, in Sacramento and where she shares part ownership of a supportive living facility which services adults with disabilities. She currently has two room and boards in Sacramento where she serves the homeless veterans population. She has an Associates Degree in Human service management and she is finishing her Bachelor’s in Psychology in winter of 2016. She spends her free time helping serve the community by serving lunch at Loaves and Fishes in Downtown Sacramento 2-3 times a month in their cafeteria. Vanessa has been volunteering in the community for many years and loves giving back.
THE HUB: How long have you been in Sacramento? How did you get started with room and board homes here in Sacramento?
Ewing: I am a 32 year old native of Toledo, Ohio and have been in Sacramento since 2008. I always give back. Since 2010 I have been feeding the homeless, I give them blankets, hold toy drives and serve lunch at Loaves and Fishes twice a month. I am a giver; I have a good, warm heart. There are so many homeless and some people don’t care. A lady in the Bay area gave me the idea and I turned my home into a room and board facility. On November 24, 2014 I got my second home.
THE HUB: What do you believe you have to offer to Sacramento area homeless veterans?
Ewing: I will offer 3 meals a day, transportation to and from doctor’s appointments at the Veteran’s Administration, transportation to and from classes: AOD, parenting, stress, and behavior. When new residents arrive they get 5 new outfits and I provide hygiene products. Also provided are mentors who come to the house and transportation to church. We help with employment skills, doing mock interviews and teach residents how to fill out applications properly.
THE HUB: When did you start your fundraising on crowdfunding? How is it going?
Ewing: We just started December 2014, so far we have raised $150. Our goal is to raise the $80,000 needed to qualify for a grant from the $3 to $5 million in grant money provided by Prop 41, Veteran’s Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond, awarded to entities and organizations that house homeless veterans. The money will be used to furnish the facility, buy beds, TVs, linens, pots and pans, etc.
THE HUB: If you’re successful and get funding from Prop 41, how will you use it?
Ewing: It can only be used to pay for a building or land and structure. I was fortunate to find a facility that had already been used as a shelter. The State will pay for that only, I am responsible for all of the interior furnishings. In the near future our project will be to build on that land.
THE HUB: If someone reading this would like to help or donate, how can they do that?
Ewing: They can go to the crowdfunding page under Go Funding for “Helping Homeless Veterans” webpage to donate. When the facility is open we will be happy to welcome volunteers. The money will not be released until June 2015, so we hope to be up and running no later than August 2015.
THE HUB: Is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to add?
Ewing: I am looking to help stop homelessness for veterans, they helped their country; they should not be out on the street, now it is up to us to help them.
You can donate now online for “Helping Homeless Veterans” at: http://www.gofundme.com/
For more information, contact Ms. Ewing at: (916) 995-7067