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Inspiring Stories from ESL Business Banking Clients: Veterans Outreach Center

Q&A with Joan Brandenburg, Director of Advancement, Veterans Outreach Center.

March 2022

What are some of the most important things people should know about the Veterans Outreach Center?

There are always veterans in need! Whether they’re coming to us for the first time or have been coming to us for years, people’s lives are complex and always changing—new needs always arise, and we do our best to provide high-quality, individualized services that meet the changing needs of our veterans.

Currently we’re renovating Richards House, our emergency shelter for local veterans, to include more bed space and therapeutic services. We hosted the groundbreaking ceremony in February and are always looking for generous individuals who want to support this initiative. Those who wish to learn more can visit vocsafehaven.org.

“We have services for all veterans no matter what they need or may be going through.”
Joan Brandenburg, Director of Advancement, Veterans Outreach Center

In April we’re opening The Fitness Center at VOC as part of our Morale Center services. This is a space where veterans can decompress, get in a good workout, and connect with other veterans. It’s designed to be individualized and welcoming to veterans of all fitness levels.

Perhaps most importantly, we have services for all veterans no matter what they need or may be going through. We offer behavioral health services, peer-to-peer groups, job training, and employment assistance, legal services, Quartermaster (which provides free food, clothing, and hygiene kits), and a lot more! More information can be found on our website at www.vocroc.org. If a veteran needs something that isn’t listed, they can reach out to us at 585.546.1081 and we will help find a solution!


What are some of the inspiring stories you’d like to share about the role the VOC has in the lives of veterans and their families locally and how has the VOC helped individuals and families?

Story 1: Marshall

Marshall is an Army Veteran with an honorable discharge. He came to Veterans Outreach Center seeking help after getting a DWI. Marshall entered our Veterans Treatment Court program, which provides intensive case management to veterans with a mental health or substance abuse diagnosis to assist them in addressing issues they may be facing. In addition to that, Marshall was welcomed to Richards House, our emergency shelter for homeless veterans, to help him get back on his feet. Once he reached stability, VOC assisted Marshall with updating his resume and was referred directly to local employers. He also utilized transportation assistance, participated in job readiness training from our Employment & Training team, and received new work clothes from our Quartermaster program.

Today, Marshall has graduated from Veterans Treatment Court, is working full-time, and has found a home of his own. He continues to use the services at our Morale Center to stay connected with other veterans and get some well-deserved self-care.

Story 2: Mark

Mark, a 63-year-old Cold War-era Army veteran, saw his life was beginning to spiral. After the loss of his wife and his home, he knew he needed help. He came to Veterans Outreach Center where we provided supportive services, clothing and other essentials from our Quartermaster Program, and transportation assistance. Not long after, Mark found a job as a plumber with a local contractor. He currently lives in a housing program where he can save his money to get his own home.

How crucial will the new shelter for homeless veterans be once it’s finished?

Incredibly crucial! Upon completion, the project will add 16 beds, which will close the gap between the number of homeless veterans and the number of shelter beds available to them. The new space will feature an elevator to the three-story building. Given that many of our veterans are older and/or disabled, this is an extremely important addition. Veterans will have expanded laundry space, common space, and additional bathrooms. They will gain privacy through single or double dormitories, as opposed to the current structure of four to six men bays. Richards House will be more functional and welcoming. New space for confidential counseling meetings and therapy programs will be an integral component of the new design, supporting the full well-being of our veterans.

What can the community do to help support the VOC and the people it serves?

VOC is always looking for dedicated volunteers to support the brave men and women who served our country. We’re also accept in-kind donations of food and clothing, and we’re always looking for talented individuals to apply for our career opportunities. For those looking to provide financial support, we accept monetary donations and sponsorships for our special events.

“The Veterans Outreach Center does so much for veterans in our community. We’re honored to be able to help an organization that helps veterans and their families during difficult times in their lives.” Nicholas Mesh, Relationship Manager, Cash Management, ESL

What has your experience been like working with the ESL Business Banking team and how has the collaboration helped the VOC?

The ESL Business Banking Team has been a wonderful partner to VOC. They are knowledgeable and have provided us with solutions to make banking easier. We appreciate their support of Veterans Outreach Center and local veterans.