San Diego, CA, August 6, 2018
Vicki Greenleaf, Greenleaf and Associates
Easterseals Southern California (ESSC) is being honored by the San Diego Padres who have invited a veteran from the non-profit’s Bob Hope Veterans Support Program to throw out the first pitch at the San Diego Padres vs. the Los Angeles Angels game, Aug. 14.
This month, ESSC’s Bob Hope Veterans Support Program, which serves veterans in the San Diego area and throughout Southern California, assisted its 675th service member, Air Force Reserve veteran (E4) Robert Napier, 31, Barrio Logan – part of the 452 MXS, maintenance squadron at March Air Reserve base – is excited about throwing out the first pitch.
From a military family and a member of the Air Force Reserve since 2016 – training and working in machining and welding – civilian unemployment and PTSD sidelined him from serving and put his life on hold. Introduced to the Bob Hope Veterans Support Program for help in seeking employment, program Transition & Employment Specialists soon learned that he had been living in his car for five months, ineligible to stay at shelters with his service dog, Archie. The program helped him find temporary lodging, obtain V.A. benefits and quickly connected him with Ryan Bros Coffee to interview for a barista position at the roaster’s Barrio Logan shop near Petco Park (where ESSC program reps often meet with clients). However, following the interview, the San Diego-area chain elevated the offer and Napier began work June 9 as a maintenance and warehouse technician.
WHO: First pitch by Air Force Reserve veteran, San Diego-resident Robert Napier
WHAT: ESSC Bob Hope Veterans Support Program honored at San Diego Padres vs. Los Angeles Angels game; CVS Health to present $40,000 check to support program
WHEN: Tuesday, Aug. 14, 7:10 p.m.
WHERE: Petco Park, 100 Park Blvd., San Diego
The Bob Hope Veterans Support Program provides one-on-one employment services, as well as referrals to other resources, to meet the unique needs of military personnel and veterans transitioning out of the military into a civilian job, starting their own small business or pursuing higher education. Since launching in 2014, the program has served more than 1,200 veterans and families with employment support and referrals to other resources, to date placing 675 into civilian positions and 90 completing educational degrees.
Over the past eight years, CVS Health has raised more than $2.5 million in support of local services provided by ESSC for veterans, as well as adults and children with disabilities and other special needs, in Southern California communities (more than $18.5 million nationally over the past 11 years). At the game, CVS Health regional director Mohammadreza (Reza) Mohammadkhani will present a check for $40,000 to ESSC CEO Mark Whitley and ESSC’s Bob Hope Veterans Support Program Director of Operations John Funk.
Veteran Robert Napier has a long line of military lineage. His grandfather did contract work for the Navy and NASA, his mother and uncle served in the Navy and his stepfather was in the Army. Napier, who graduated with a BA, majoring in film/video, from Georgia State University, never expected to experience homelessness. But PTSD (related to the April 2016 Lackland Air Force Base shootings in Texas), a divorce, a move to Southern California and inability to find work (either in film and video or as a machinist) soon led him down a difficult path.
“I think this is a really important message in regards to homelessness,” says Napier. “Beforehand, I thought, ‘Why can’t people just get a job and earn your way back?’ But it’s not that simple,” he says, choking up, noting how hard it is to talk about even now that it’s behind him. “I now realize how hard that can be. Archie [his service dog] and I were going hungry. I just wanted to find a job. It didn’t even have to be in my skillset. But you have to look good and be of sound mind to work. If it’s a struggle to just stay alive, meet personal hygiene needs and eat the next day, how does one do that? It’s a slippery slope and being homeless felt like a separate reality. After the day was done, there was no bed to sleep in … I went back to my car to look for a safe place to park where it was dark, so no cars or police would come to mess with me.
“Easterseals gave me the confidence and ability to follow through and stay the course,” recalls Napier, who had sought help through several other organizations. Although an accident recently totaled his car and he now rides a bike to work, he hopes to soon find permanent lodging, be reinstated in the Air Force Reserve [which suspended duty based on his homelessness] and reunite with Archie, who is staying with a cousin in Arizona. “It’s a good job, the people I work for at Ryan Bros are great and I’m not hungry anymore. Things feel really stable. I’m happy, excited and thankful to move forward with my life.”
Commented Funk, “For veterans who are transitioning out of the military, re-adjusting to civilian life and finding work can be challenging. Easterseals is here to help veterans like Robert Napier make that transition and we are honored to serve those who served our country. Support from partners like CVS Health is critical to our mission and we are grateful for their ongoing commitment to Easterseals and the Southern California communities we both serve.”
About CVS Health: CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through its 7,800 retail drugstores, nearly 1,000 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with more than 70 million plan members, and expanding specialty pharmacy services, the Company enables people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable, effective ways. This unique integrated model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at www.cvshealth.com.
About Easterseals Southern California: For nearly 100 years, Easterseals has been an indispensable resource for individuals with developmental disabilities or other special needs and their families. The services provided by Easterseals Southern California (ESSC) – in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Imperial, Kern, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura counties – make profound and positive differences in people's lives every day, helping them address life’s challenges and achieve personal goals so that they can live, learn, work and play in our communities. With 2,700 employees, 60+ service sites and hundreds of community partnership locations, ESSC assists more than 10,000 people, providing adult/senior day services; autism therapy; child development/early education; employment services, veteran employment support; independent living options; and more. At Easterseals, 88% of our income is spent on services. Join us in changing the way the world defines and views disabilities.
About ESSC’s Bob Hope Veterans Support Program: The Bob Hope Veterans Support Program provides one-on-one employment services, as well as referrals to other resources, to meet the unique needs of military personnel and veterans transitioning out of the military into a civilian job, starting their own small business or pursuing higher education. Since launching in 2014, the program has served more than 1,200 veterans and families with employment support and referrals to other resources, to date placing 675 into civilian positions and 90 completing educational degrees. Free to veterans, who do not need to have a disability to participate, the program was launched to serve the San Diego area – later expanded to include Orange County — with a generous seed grant from The Bob Hope Legacy. Visit us online: http://www.easterseals.com/southerncal/our-programs/military-veterans-services
About the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation and The Bob Hope Legacy: The Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation, which includes The Bob Hope Legacy, supports organizations that bring HOPE to those in need and those who served to protect our nation consistent with the legacy of Bob Hope, a world-class entertainer and humanitarian. To date, The Bob Hope Legacy has donated more than $2 million dollars in support of Easterseals’ military and veteran services.
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