Building a sense of community is easy when you have great people around you, who share a common interest in improving the lives of others. This is what led to a partnership between Habitat Monroe and Little Blessings Veteran & Community Outreach.
The founder of LBVCO, Jamie Paxton, met with Jennifer Hockenberger, Director of Fundraising and Media at Habitat Monroe, and it only took one conversation to create their bond, leading to a lasting partnership between their community agencies.
“Habitat has amazing community supporters,” Jamie said, “this speaks volumes about the organization.”
Since then, Jamie joined Habitat’s Women’s’ Leadership Initiative group, a network of local women who devote time to advocate for Habitat and has attended many of their events. She also generously opened the doors of Duke Farm, where LBVCO resides, to allow Habitat to hold their Volunteer Appreciation Event in 2019.
Jamie not only wanted to get personally involved with Habitat but wanted to open opportunities for the members of her organization too. LBVCO helps veterans reintegrate smoothly into civilian life after service, and uses methods such as equine therapy and community outreach to help them avoid isolation, something that Jamie was familiar with.
After serving 25 years in the United States Air Force, Jamie retired and transitioned back into the civilian world. According to her, the experience was horrible and led her to create LBVCO as a way to empower and educate veterans. She wanted to help make other veterans’ transitions less overwhelming.
“Anyone who is in the military has a ‘service before self’ mindset,” Jamie said.
With that in mind, it seems natural for the veterans in the LBVCO program to work with Habitat. Nearly 80 percent of Habitat’s labor force is made up of volunteers, who typically have no building experience but want to help their community none the less.
“It is a perfect fit for Veterans, it provides them a purpose, it reduces the isolation that takes place”, Jamie said.
Habitat Monroe was recently recognized by Habitat for Humanity International as a Veteran Certified Affiliate, which provided specific education on the difficulties that some veterans face when they leave the service and how to help them. Those who have served in the military, or has family who is serving or served in the military, are encouraged to apply for Habitat homeownership.
“I have been on site of a finished build and it is truly a blessing what they are doing for someone,” Jamie said. “They are leaving lasting impacts throughout the community!”
Former military service members, Anita and Christin, who support LBVCO just volunteered their time on Sept. 26, at the Grand Blvd. Habitat home in Frenchtown. Even after serving their country for many years, they continue to serve their community selflessly.