Vets Group Helps With ‘General Needs’

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General Needs focuses on helping the 5,000-plus homeless Long Island veterans and their families by providing basic necessities through your charitable donations and support. The organization’s mission focuses on providing basic necessities that are missing in the everyday lives of homeless veterans.

In 2008, General Needs founder Lonnie Sherman volunteered at a monthly “hot meal” service at the Northport VA Medical Center in a veteran’s emergency homeless shelter. Sherman noticed that during November through December, some civic groups and individuals came in to offer clothing and coats to the residents in the shelter. These veterans are housed for up to 90 days while undergoing treatment for PTSD, substance abuse, mental and physical therapies as well as medical procedures. However, in January, and the rest of the year, little was offered to assist the veterans. In conversations with the veterans and the social work staff it became obvious that the residents needed simple, everyday items such as underwear, socks and T-shirts; stuff that was rarely donated to the shelter.

In soliciting family, friends and business associates for support, Sherman would ask, “doesn’t everybody like to open a fresh, new bag of underwear?” He would pool donations of these basic undergarments and money—including from his own pocket—until he had accumulated and purchased enough items to service 40-45 veterans. He would pack the clothing in reusable shopping bags and thus provide a “Distribution with Dignity” by handing out new, much-needed, appropriately sized goods for the veterans. Sherman always included a smile and a look in the eye while providing a heartfelt “thank you for your service” handshake.

Distributions went from sporadic to quarterly to monthly with the assistance of family and friends’ participation in this cause. In time, Sherman came to understand these veterans lacked many other basic necessities such as toiletries, seasonally appropriate clothing, footwear, etc. Sherman’s solicitations for support led to increased donations, the eventual result of which became better service to area veterans by Sherman’s organization, General Needs.

In May 2015, General Needs Ltd. became a federal 501c3 nonprofit charitable organization. In addition, General Needs Ltd. applied and was granted the certificate for not-for-profit registration from Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency and is registered with the New York State office of the Attorney General. General Needs now services “monthly” veterans housed at emergency shelters for homeless veterans from Brooklyn/Queens to Riverhead.

General Needs draws its support from Long Islanders who are compassionate and concerned about those who have served the country. The organization draws no salaries nor takes any goods or money collected for personal benefit. To volunteer or to make a donation, visit www.generalneeds.org or call 631-266-1672.

 

—Information reprinted from www.generalneeds.org

General Needs Ltd. – References

Thomas Ronayne
Director at Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency
Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency, Office of the County Executive
Phone: 631-853-8387

Mary A. Kelly, LCSW, ACSW
Social Work Section Chief—HUD-VASH
MST Therapist
Phone: 631-261-4400, ext. 4538

Paule T. Pachter, ACSW, LMSW
Chief Executive Officer
Long Island Cares
The Harry Chapin Food Bank
Phone: 631-582-3663 ext. 101

Michael W. Haynes, MPA
Chief Government Affairs Officer
Harry Chapin Food Bank and Humanitarian Center
Phone: 631-824-6386

Michael Stoltz, LCSW
Chief Executive Officer
Association for Mental Health and Wellness
Formerly, Suffolk County United Veterans Mental Health and Wellness
Phone: 631-471-7242 ext. 1304

Frank Amalfitano, President/CEO
United Veterans Beacon House
Phone: 631-665-1571

Edward L. Olsen, LCSW CASAC, I-CADC
Director of Beacon House Northport Veteran Residence
Phone: 631-262-0601

Ralph Esposito, Director
Jeffrey Paul Vista, Deputy Director
Nassau County Veterans Service Agency
Phone: 516-572-6521 (J.P. Vista)

Wendy Walsh-DeMaria
Rotary District Governor 2017-2018
Rotary District 7255—Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau & Suffolk Counties
Phone: 516-635-7627

Anthony Civitano
Rotary District Governor 2014-2015
Rotary District 7255—Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau & Suffolk Counties
Phone: 718-938-0063

Arnold T. Quaranta, Jr.
Rotary Past District Governor 2010-2011
Rotary District 7260 Suffolk County
Fellow Member of Rotary Club of the Ronkonkomas
Phone: 631-356-8830

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