Welcome Home

Welcome Home Program

Every night, as many as 40,000 veterans are living on the streets. Each with a different story, they all shared a common pledge: to support and defend this country. Their service is done. Now, it’s the Elks’ turn to serve.

In partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Elks National Veterans Service Commission has pledged to help end veteran homelessness, and ensure that every veteran has the safe, stable home they deserve. To accomplish this goal, we need your help!

Read more about the program below to get started. Click here to download an instructional booklet about the program to share with others.

Here are the components of the Welcome Home program.

Welcome Home Kits

Watch how Cocoa Beach, Fla., Lodge No. 2387 makes a big impact on veterans through the Welcome Home Kit program.

Most veterans move into their homes with nothing. Elks can help veterans establish their homes by building Welcome Home Kits. Generally, this kit would include some small furniture, kitchenware, and cleaning supplies. Items can be new or used, donated or purchased.

Starting April 1, the ENVSC will reimburse up to $300 per kit and up to $400 for each kit that includes a bed (all dependent on corresponding receipts).

Ready to get started?

  • Find a partner to connect your Lodge with veterans in need. Every VA Medical Center has at least one person on staff whose job is to focus on serving veterans experiencing homelessness, and larger VAs have entire departments called HUD-VASH which cater specifically to these veterans. Many cities also have CRRCs, which are community resource and referral centers for veterans in need of housing assistance. Don’t forget about independent nonprofit organizations that serve veterans like Volunteers of America or Salvation Army. Click here to learn more about finding partners.

  • Speak with the facility and the veteran about their needs. Facilities may have certain items in stock, so it’s best to coordinate beforehand. And, each veteran may have special requests (a radio, a coffee maker, sheets for their child’s bed, etc.).

  • Get the community involved! Consider holding a supply drive to collect commonly needed items like bathroom towels, toiletries, paper products, laundry detergent and cleaning supplies. Know anyone who is moving? Collect furniture, dishes and other home goods they don’t need any more.

  • Deliver the kits! Many Lodges take photos with the veterans when they deliver the kits. (Check out our Instagram page for examples!)

  • We encourage Lodges to stay in contact with the veterans they serve! Having an Elk as an advocate and friend can further help these veterans to thrive in their new home. Learn more on our Adopt-a-Veteran webpage.

Need some expert advice? Hopkins, Minn., Lodge No. 2221 has put together and delivered more than 300 kits to veterans exiting homelessness. Read their Welcome Home Kits how-to-guide.

Access the Welcome Home Kit reimbursement form!

Increased Focus on 8 cities

The VA has asked the Elks to focus their efforts in and around the following 8 cities, which they’ve identified as the areas of highest need. The following two additional programs will be available to Lodges in and surrounding these areas:

  • Chicago
  • New York
  • Washington, D.C.
  • San Diego
  • Los Angeles
  • Loma Linda
  • Seattle
  • Miami-Dade.

Focus Grants

Hear about how Loudon, Va., Lodge No. uses their Welcome Home grant to help veterans exiting homelessness establish their home.

The Elks National Veterans Service Commission is offering additional grants to Lodges in the 8 target cities identified above. These grants of up to $10,000 will be available specifically to assist veterans who are homeless, or at risk of being so. Applications become available online April 1, 2019, and are due by December 31, 2019. Here are the requirements:

  • Significant Elk involvement is required.

  • Grant applications must focus on direct service to veterans in need.

  • Grants are competitive and will be awarded to Lodges with the intention of awarding a similar number of grants to Lodges in each area. Please work together with Lodges in your area to coordinate outreach.

  • A complete application and budget must be submitted and approved before funds are mailed.

  • After project is complete, Lodges must complete a Final Report, including documentation of all funds spent.

  • More information, including application questions, can be found on this one-page flyer.

Access the Focus Grant application here!

Elks Emergency Assistance Program

Listen to social workers from the Veterans Administration rave about the Elks' emergency assistance program in this short video.

Spread the word about the Elks Veterans Emergency Assistance Program. Veterans registered with and receiving services from the Department of Veterans Affairs can apply for one-time monetary assistance to prevent homelessness or secure a home. Forms must be signed by the veteran and by a VA employee.

  • All assistance requests must be submitted through the Department of Veterans Affairs, and signed by a VA employee. Individual requests cannot be processed at this time. This form is only available to VA facilities in the 8 targeted areas.

  • Visit the Elks Volunteers Resource page for information about assistance available to veterans outside these 8 areas.
  • Read about some of the veterans helped through the Elks Emergency Assistance Fund and other Elks programs in our Be the Spark series.

Rally your Lodge members to get involved! Together, we can end veteran homelessness.

For further information, contact the Elks National Veterans Service Commission office at Vets@elks.org, or at 773-755-4736. Or, visit www.va.gov/homeless/.

Check out other Elks Veterans Programs! Learn about the Adopt-a-Veteran, Veterans Leather and Elks VA Voluntary Service Programs, and Freedom Grants.

Questions? Email Vets@elks.org or call 773/755-4736.

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