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Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania, Inc.
January 30, 2008

VVLP exceled in all areas of my need, having provided services that I had been unable to find through other social services agency and everything was done in a very professional, courteous and respectful way as to allow me to keep my self respect and dignty. Please allow me to explain. I entered the VVLP after being refered to VVLP by my former Landlord. By that time I had been to every social service agency around town with no help given to me. But for the Salvation Army there I did recieve help. My troubles began some 5 yrs ago about 2003. I was employed as a security guard earning about $ 8.00/hr. when I first became ill AND started having physical problems too. The illness not knowing then the nature of this illness caused me the loss of days at work and shorten my paycheck. I was off work just one whole week and from my paycheck a week of pay. being single the only wage earner in the house that loss of 1 week's pay hurt me I did not have enough my money to pay my rent on the 1st of the month so I borrowed money from my gas bill to make up the difference. I figured that I'd be able to catch up on the gas bill by mid-month. Then I had to pay for cash for a prescription that the Doctor had ordered for me. Doing that I borrowed my from the electric bill which I also figured I make up the difference of that by the first paycheck of the next month. Well it was not to be so. Everything began to snowball downhill. I ended up in the hospital a number of times I had to have surgery four times, 1surgery is an emergency surgery. I spend more time at the doctor's office or at the hospital for testing than I am at work. Of course no work no paycheck. My employer terminated me after agreeing to allow me medical leave but I was terminated. Every monthly debt and bills I owed I fell behind paying including child support payments("WOW")!!! Domestic Relations, just saying that enough said. Okay, that is when I began searching for help earnestly, before then I went to one all the social service agency known you name them I was there first thing in the morning. You must be there early before 8:00am to be seen. but before being seen there is the matter of filling out pre-visit forms that must be filled out then mailed back to whichever office/agency before you can be seen by a Social Worker and that takes a phone call that I should have caaled before coming in to the office. They mail forms out to you, You fill out sign date all forms mail them back in, then someone will call to schedule an appointment, remember to fill in "all" information bring "all" proofs of this, proofs of that, be there by 8am. or 1/2hr prior to your first visit which is only an evalution for services appointment. "ALL" your buisness must be disclosed for why you're there seeking help and then you're asked: "WELL HOW DID YOU LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU AND GET SO FAR OUT OF HAND BEFORE SEEKING HELP AND/OR ARE DRUGS/ALCOHOL INVOLVED WHAT IS THE REASON FOR YOUR UNMANAGEABILITY SIR"? Are you living above your means? Like I could live such a lavish lifestyle from an income of $8.00/hr. Having been stripped of all my sense of dignity, pride, self-respect and all self-worth. You are made to feel like you are "less than" by the person behind the desk doing the interviewing. And with all that, keep in mind that this is just an evalution for services appointment. There is no real sure thing of recieving help and have you tried cutting back on this or that, do you owe property that you rent/stocks/bonds or a car that can be sold off for funds/do you have family or friends that can help? On and on they go. Then that is when you learn that it will be a few days-30,45,60 days depending on the agency before you can recieve help. as if perhaps you'll get frustrated enough give up or just walk out. You get the picture. But even though you need the help today right now, it can't be done. did I tell you yet that I did not qualify for any assistance because I earned too much money for that month or year. In fact by too much I'm speaking of just a few hundred dollars-$200 to $500 too much again depending on the agency. I'm a VET a United States Army Viet-Nam Vet and each and every agency refused me help or thier help was too little too late and incomplete. Now by this time I'm so far behind I'm feeling so depressed that the thoughts of killing myself aren't just thoughts any more. I'm now planing my death, now see if you can get the money Domestic Relations. with the gas, electric, turned off and facing eviction I can't shower or proform daily body needs, not eating right. I walk out on to one of the many bridges in this city. I do not know how or who but I end up in the phyc-unit at the hospital. This is when I am introduced to the VVLP. Again I can't remember when who how but my former Landlord and the VVLP entered my life. but all due to the mistrust of other agency I'd dealt with in the past and bad depression I suffered, my process was abit longer than normal. I can honestly say that the VVLP staff (THANK GOD) for the staff off VVLP. These folks did everything and anything imaginable possible to help me they went above and beyond the call of duty to help me. first they had to break down the walls of mistrust confusion and depression. then they had to spoon feed me their services I didn't trust them why would anyone want to help me. Then they practically hand carried me everywhere even to Doctor appointments. from the door I was treated with respect told that I am somebody, shown real care and real concern. third I was given help that turned out to be more than I could ever hope for or pray for, truth is I didn't even know what I needed or wanted even that they help me withby suggesting I sit down and write a wish list of what I would want if I were given the help to get what I want. From the door when you are treated with this type of care its overwelming of a sort. At "ALL" the other agency I had been treated with abit of disdain/contempt believe me I know how that feels not so with the VVLP staff. MAN! WHAT A DIFFERENCE THE "REAL PEOPLE" MADE IN MY LIFE! Forgive me if this is too long or you feel it is too emotional. Hey it is what it is. my story. They have given me the services of just about all my needs given me one of my wants, there is still a few things I hope will be resolved but I am confident that even these issues will be cleared up too. I don't know who or how the VVLP is given its funds to stay in buisness, but its my suggestion that the funding be increased an 100 fold no make that 300-400% so that the staff can provide an even greater depth of services. What would be thier wish list of services they want to be able to provide but can't due to funding restrains. If you are private corprate or government contributares. Increase the funding so that the VVLP can be expanded to help an ever increasing VETS that are in need returning home and to those VETS my age from VIet-Nam that yet do not know of VVLP.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Just my own needs being met

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Truthfully I could not run this program but I'd like to work for them. I'd employ many more staff to service many more clients and advertise over every public service broadcast system.

More feedback

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

you/I interact with the staff you/I tell them what you/I need

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Kind caring respectful and courteous

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

10million bucks? tripple that then ask me what I think this program could do

Ways to make it better...

i could have trusted them sooner

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

me, myself and I. no really anyone just like me walking through the doors for the first time

One thing I'd also say is that...

GOD BLESS VVLP & ALL THE STAFF

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008

MY ROLE:
Client Served & I just showed up.