CSNT received $300,000 grant for veteran’s assistance
Community Services of Northeast Texas received a $300,000 grant from the state of Texas to use for veterans assistant.
“The veterans program allows us to have a conversation with people we haven’t specifically had a conversation with before and lets them plug into all the things we do,” said Boyd.
Boyd explained how they can use the other assistance they offer and use it with the new grant.
“For instance we can do utility assistance with the grant but when we meet with a vet we see if our other utility assistance can help them first. Because if it can you use that one first and save the other money for veteran things. If they don’t qualify for that then we have the veteran’s money,” Boyd explained.
This grant will be used across the twelve counties that CSNT spans for many needs that veterans may have.
“The $300,000 created three jobs and about $175,000 will go directly to services for veterans. It may not seem like a lot of money out of $300,000 but it is. It is a lot of money for veterans in a twelve county area and we are partnering with Lancer Legacy Ranch in Maud, TX. Everything radiates from there but we will have clients in all twelve counties before it is over,” said CSNT Executive Director Dan ‘Lucky’ Boyd.
Boyd explained how they went about getting the grant along with how it is funded through the state.
“It’s a one year program and every year in Nov. you have to submit a grant application to Texas Veterans Commission and Funds for Veterans Assistance and they are funded in part by the lottery. So how much money they have to give away every year depends how many people play the lottery and they have their own scratch off. This program is funded by the state and there are no federal funds involved,” Boyd explained.
“We apply through this application process and in the last week of Jan. we go to Austin and do a presentation and you get three minutes to present. You got there and stay all day and have to watch everyone else’s three minute presentations,” said Boyd.
The services that the grant will provide is rent assistance, mortgage assistance, utility assistance, vehicle fuel, child care, dental assistance and free and unlimited taxi service.
“The first year we applied we did not get it and this year we did. You never know about next year, they make new decisions every year. We hear that they may go to two year grants which would allow us to breathe a little easier,” said Boyd.
The grant is a reimbursement grant and that means that CSNT pays for the services then report to the state with what they have done then get reimbursed for the expenses.
Along with those services they are also able to provide job etiquette classes, employment preparation counseling and that helps them get ready to get a job.
“A lot of them haven’t had to do resumes in a while or had to do interviews in awhile so this will help them through these processes,” said Boyd.
The application can be found online at veteranservices.org and turned in at a long list of locations.
This grant created three jobs of which two are case managers specifically for this program that will be able assist with the application process and other needs.
“If they don’t have transportation we have a taxi service that will go get them,” said Boyd.
“We have a veterans taxi the number is 1-800-777-9570. One of the interesting things about our taxi compared to other transportation services is that we will not only just take the veteran but we will take the veterans family. I mean who wants to go to the doctor alone. Some of the other transportation programs will take the vet and not the family,” said Boyd.
“I don’t care where they need to go I will take them. If they need to go grocery shopping I will take them. It’s not just about medical transportation. If they need to go to a veterans facility to apply for something and there are some veteran services that you can only apply for in Dallas or Houston, we don’t care we will take them,” said Boyd.
The application and approval process is not based on the individual’s income.
“It is not means tested so if you are a veteran you are eligible for the program,” said Boyd.
Boyd spoke about what the grant means to CSNT and the services that they provide.
“Now we have things that are specific to veterans. It gets us in conversations with veteran service officers, veteran service organizations, VFW’s, American Legion’s, disabled vets and allows us to bundle a lot of the other services that we do,” explained Boyd.
He also mentioned the economic impact on the local economy caused by CSNT.
“We have an economic impact in our area that is almost a hundred million dollars in our area. We employ over a hundred people. It is a great enterprise, we help a lot of people,” said Boyd.
“What this grant does is gives us a foot in the door to talk to a whole group of people we haven’t specifically talked to before. Of course we have been dealing with veterans for fifty years but not as a group. We come across a veteran we help them,” said Boyd.
“It opens doors for us. We are a community action agency and we are the best kept secret in America. We do a lot before FEMA before anybody. We are the Salvation Army and most people don’t know that. We help with things that people have no idea there is help for. There are things in the community and they are there because of us. We don’t jump up and say that is there because of us,” said Boyd.
“One of the things we found when doing research is this crazy figure that 58 percent of all veterans in our service are tend to not know what they are eligible for. So you have almost half the veterans out there that are the only one that knows where to go and what to do, the other more than half have no idea who to call and where to go when they need something. We find that way too many of them need something,” said Boyd.