Happy New Year!
Wrapping Up Our Most Successful Giving Season Ever
Incredible support from the MACV community resulted in total giving from the Home for the Holidays campaign topping $812,355. Sponsored by WCCO, Papa Murphy's Pizza, Standard Heating, and Central Roofing, Home for the Holidays more than doubled its previous results, which means Minnesota Veterans can rely on the support they need from MACV in the tough months to come.

Thank you from the entire team at MACV for such a faith-inspiring start to 2021. Your generosity changes lives, and pushes us closer to ending Veteran homelessness in Minnesota every day.

In the News
Landlords and MACV: a blossoming partnership
As part of the Home for the Holidays campaign, WCCO investigated one of our innovative strategies to end Veteran homelessness in Minnesota: partnering with landlords and property managers to open the door for homeless Veterans. Learn more here.
Sitting down with MACV's Neal Loidolt
WCCO wrapped up their incredible coverage of MACV's work by interviewing President & CEO Neal Loidolt. This final chapter of the Home for the Holidays campaign debuted on December 30, 2020, bringing a remarkable year for MACV to a close. Check out the clip here!
Home for the Holidays - to go!
For the past 4 years, WCCO coordinated a holiday meal for Veterans throughout the Twin Cities. With little disruption, WCCO collaborated with Standard Heating, Central Roofing, and Papa Murphy's to serve up a meal on the go, ensuring Vets were safe and comfortable for this annual event.
Christmas Eve Dinner for Veterans
VFW Post 137 has a longstanding tradition of serving Christmas Eve dinner to Duluth area Veterans, and COVID-19 was not going to deter this dedicated group from connecting with Veterans in need. Learn more about the event here!
Unions in the Age of COVID-19
Many Veterans leave the military with skills and interests which align them with industries such as construction, transportation, logistics, and labor, which all have strong union presences in the American workforce. Employment Services Coordinator Ryan Schaefer, a Veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps with a background which includes carpentry, farming, and now social services, has great insight into the opportunities and challenges labor unions create for MACV Veterans.

“I’ve helped guys get up to date or keep up to date if they’re behind on their union due,” explains Schaefer, “That’s the number one that we use.” Other common interactions MACV has with local unions include initial payment of dues for new members, which are commonly higher than the maintenance payment existing members pay.

Why pay dues at all? Local labor unions often hold the cards for lucrative, stable jobs in skilled labor industries like plumbing and electrician work. Dues paid by union laborers give them access to these opportunities, bargaining rights, and protections from a volatile job market.

At least, that is the theory. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on even the most stable unions, sidelining professionals such as electricians and construction workers for months or even years. “[A Minnesota] electrician’s union didn’t even process any applications in 2020, so now there’s a backlog of two years’ worth of member applications which need processing,” reports Schaefer. These kinds of COVID-19 related administrative problems have very real impacts on the financial stability of Veterans served by MACV.

Barriers like reliable transportation across a physically large state with a wide range of work sites pose additional challenges to Veterans who may not have a driver’s license or cannot afford a car. Paying upfront for expenses like a hotel room or other temporary living arrangement, then waiting for union reimbursement, often writes MACV Veterans off the list for high-paying jobs outside their immediate community.

Schaefer also notes that Veterans themselves often play a significant role in whether they succeed in the union environment. Soft skills MACV's Employment Services team emphasizes like monitoring job boards, using computers to apply for jobs, building interpersonal relationships in the work environment, and becoming familiar with professional conduct standards all play roles in the successful union member’s life. “We might have a guy who gets their first job after we pay their union dues, but then never finds another one because he doesn’t look,” he explains.

These simple oversights may discourage an inexperienced worker, impacting their employability and ability to build experience on the job. Factors such as age, criminal background, professional qualifications, and reputation also contribute to a Veteran’s success in the union-tied trades.

At the end of the day, choosing to join or leave the U.S. military is a career choice. Bridging the divide between military and civilian work environments is the most concrete difference Veterans experience upon leaving active duty. A shared background in the military and civilian worlds is an especially critical factor for working with the Veteran population struggling to succeed in their work life.

MACV considers the Employment Services team an important instrument for the long-term stabilization of homeless and at-risk Veterans. Thanks for all the hard work, guys!
Masons Prioritize Ending Veteran Homelessness
Minnesota's Masonic Charities is one of MACV's longest-standing supporters. Ties with Minnesota Masonry go back more than a decade, when the Grand Lodge of Minnesota and Minnesota Masonic Charities first teamed up to help support MACV’s efforts.

“Veteran assistance has always been a priority with the Masons, and remains a focus of Minnesota Masonic Charities,” said Eric J. Neetenbeek, president and CEO of Minnesota Masonic Charities. “MACV provides proven programs to Veterans who face homelessness while leveraging existing state programs. We have been very impressed with their outcomes.”

Grand Master Ethan Seaberg of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota agrees. “My introduction to MACV came partly through thanks from a veteran who’d used their services. By chance he learned I was a Mason, and he made a special effort to thank Minnesota Masonry for our assistance. Along with the support of Minnesota Masonic Charities, our Grand Lodge should be proud of our support of MACV.”

Together, the Masonic organizations have gifted nearly $350,000 to MACV, most recently with a combined gift in 2020 of $75,000 to help expand on the Council’s most promising programs for mitigating the barriers to housing many Veterans face.

Those barriers include complications Veterans often experience as a result of wounds both mental and physical. When working in partnership with MACV, many landlords typically will overlook tenant applications that list a history of, for example, past evictions or a criminal record correlated with addiction or mental illness.

“There are so many obstacles to people getting apartments,” said Brian Peterson, MACV’s Chief Financial Officer. “Our goal is for MACV’s programs to overcome those barriers and achieve housing outcomes for homeless Veterans otherwise not possible.

In 2018, Masonic support helped pilot MACV’s Master Leasing Program, in which the organization leased apartment units from landlords and then sublet the apartments to homeless Veterans. The program established strong relationships with landlords throughout the state, and provided stable housing to hundreds of Veterans.

“The Masons really helped support our Master Leasing Program, which was a catalyst for a complete shift in approach to how we engage landlords in our mission,” said Shaun Riffe, Development Director at MACV. “It was one of many examples of the Masons giving with an encouragement to also try new ideas and creative solutions to achieve our mission. The flexibility of the support from the Masons has allowed us to grow that program into what we now call a Landlord Engagement Program.”

The updated program takes out MACV as the leasing “middle man,” and instead supports the Veterans and the landlords with services to ensure each tenant’s success.

“As part of the discovery process, we realized we needed to address the needs of the landlords first,” said Riffe. “When a landlord gets a MACV client, they are fully aware of the background of the Veteran coming in. We ask landlords to look past those issues because of our involvement.”

MACV Landlord Engagement Specialists work with each Veteran client and are available to their landlords should any issues arise. “Landlords can call the Specialist and say, ‘Hey, I’m having a problem with this client,’” said Riffe. “We have that relationship. It has led to almost zero evictions. In those rare situations when somebody does need to be removed and its not a good fit, we can arrange for them to move out of the property without an eviction on their record and work with the client to go the next step. Everybody’s understanding that there’s somebody there to help and to keep this going.”

The organization starts by placing one or two Veteran clients with new landlords to the program to build that working relationship. In all cases thus far, landlords are happy to accept more MACV referrals, and so the program grows.

MACV also worked to help launch the state-funded “Landlord Incentive and Risk Mitigation Program,” which provides landlords who rent to Veterans with barriers with incentives such as vacancy loss reimbursement.

With the help of Masonic funding, MACV has also added a Healthcare Navigator, a licensed social worker dedicated to connecting clients with the health resources they need on their path to stable housing.

“We’ve been doing this for 30 years,” said Peterson. “We’re not doing this on an island, and our mission is much larger than what just our organization can achieve alone. We partner with agencies throughout Minnesota around shared goals to help those most in need to achieve stable housing.”

Originally reported January 21, 2021 in MN Masonic News
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Partner Spotlight: Big Steer Meats

MACV established a new partnership over the course of the 2020 holiday season which provides a unique donation to the Veteran community. Rich Bohaty, along with his son Brian, collaborated with Kurt Krummel at St. Paul’s Big Steer Meats to provide over 175 pounds of ham, 100 turkeys and 200 boxes of venison for distribution to Veterans in need. Rich, who volunteers with conservation nonprofit Pheasants Forever, is dedicated to feeding our brave through donations to the military community. 

Our team recently helped deliver packages from Big Steer Meats to Minnesota National Guard members returning from deployment as well as several Veteran and family support groups throughout the state.

MACV is proud to support this relationship and thank Rich, Brian, and Kurt for making this timely donation. Our success relies on connections with people who believe in our mission and creating ties within our Veteran community in Minnesota. We look forward to continuing to share these gifts with those who served or still wear the uniform.

If you would like to find out more about Pheasants Forever or Big Steer Meats, please contact our office, or call Rich or Kurt at 651-395-1495. They would love to connect with other Veteran groups or organizations which could benefit from this partnership
Volunteers Pitch In to Help Veterans

Handmade quilt donated by Edina Realty Foundation members for our new tenant moving into a transitional home.
North St. Paul American Legion built and donated ten new move-kits to provide everything a Veteran needs for their first night in a new home.
Donor Spotlight
Veterans 4 Veterans
Our partners at Minnesota Veterans 4 Veterans (V4V) donated a $10,000 match opportunity during the Home from the Holidays campaign, a challenge which our amazing community doubled in less than 3 hours. Thanks to everyone at V4V who believes in our mission and caring for Veterans in crisis!
Tribute Fest
Tribute Fest is an annual fundraising event hosted by volunteers Lou Campbell and Mike Donahue for Veterans residing in and around Duluth, Minnesota. This year the two campaign managers have raised over $11,000 for this worthy cause, and additional donations are still being raised at Tribute Fest online. Thanks for the support, guys.
Bloomington American Legion
The American Legion Bloomington Chapter is a longtime supporter of MACV's mission and services. This committed group donated twice in December: a $10,000 match challenge for Home for the Holidays, and $7,500 to support operations at our Penn Avenue transitional housing property in December. This group's commitment keeps Veterans safe and sheltered while they get their lives back on track. Thank you for such steady support over the years!
MACV and Comcast have developed a partnership for maximizing our donor impact during our two end-of-year giving campaigns. We benefitted from a $2,500 match challenge from the Comcast regional office during Home for the Holidays, a $8,000 match for Give to the Max Day, as well as various Comcast employee contributions over the course of 2020. Thanks to Comcast for your steadfast support of Veterans in need!
Leonard J. Mikulay Foundation

We are grateful to the Leonard J. Mikulay Foundation for their matching contribution of $100,000 to continue building transitional housing for Minnesota's Veterans. The LJM Foundation’s support and passion for creating affordable housing options geared toward Minnesota's Veterans has been critical to our success!
Thank You to Last Month's Donors
You Can Help End Veteran Homelessness
Our team is working hard to stabilize Veterans without a place to shelter.
Every day, hundreds of Minnesota Veterans and their families do not have a place to call home. Living on the streets, in unsafe or overcrowded living conditions, or asking friends and family to sleep on their couch for one more night, they lack the basic safety and dignity that everyone deserves.

Especially those who served our country.