Joining Forces: Capital Area Stand Down and Community Connect

Volunteers of America Michigan, leader of the Capital Area Stand Down for Homeless Veterans for 13 years, was honored in 2016 to be asked to include another important service outreach event: Lansing Community Connect.

Both events are geared toward gathering lots of resources for the homeless and needy in one location.

With Volunteers of America's long track record of successful event coordination, and our commitment to the community, we said yes. The result was a successful gathering of more agencies than ever, 60, and a successful day of outreach and fellowship. The theme of the day was "Joining Forces."

The event is a free, one-stop service fair for veterans and people who are homeless or at-risk of being homeless. Attendees are connected with services such as job help, vision testing, education and training, haircuts and much more. Lunch is provided, along with giveaways for hygiene kits, clothing and more.

Our goal was to provide the best possible service to as many people as possible.

The event was held at Adado Riverfront Park in downtown Lansing on Wednesday, June 1, 2016. Agencies joined forces to serve over 300 registered participants including 153 veterans and 123 individuals with disability. Under clear skies, attendees enjoyed a nutritious meal, free services, giveaways, music and camaraderie. We hope all our attendees walked away, arms and hearts full, with refreshed deliberate steps and the information they need to move forward.

A special thank you to:

  • Event Partners: City of Lansing, Greater Lansing Homeless Resolution Network and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs;
    • Speakers
      • Dr. Joan Jackson Johnson, Director of City of Lansing Human Relations and Community Services Department
      • Brigadier General Michael A. Stone, Assistant Adjutant General for the Michigan Army National Guard
      • Mary Beth Skupien, Ph.D., Director of the Battle Creek Veterans Affairs Medical Center
      • Stanley Williams, Veteran
    • Veterans Juan Garcia, Ken Dainty and Franklyn Ashley for posting the colors
    • Ashley Berry, Miss Shoreline's Outstanding Teen, for performing the National Anthem
    • Stan Budzynski & the Third Degree for their musical performance and sound
    • The Capitol City Chordsmen for their special performance
    • The devoted volunteers, sponsors and planning committee members that make this event possible
      • Patriot Sponsors: Jackson National Life, William Schulz, Utility Workers Union of America, Local 123;
      • Gold Sponsors: Capital Area Elks Lodge 196, UAW Local 652; American Legion Capitol City Post 12;
      • Silver Sponsors: Regina Allen, UAW Region 1D CAP Council; UAW Local 724; Greater Lansing Labor Council;
      • Bronze Sponsors: Sandra Zerkle and VFW Ladies Auxiliary No. 4106
  • And a special salute to all veterans, whose sacrifice and service we celebrate and honor.