the birth and life of helmets of hope
In 2014-15, we collected basic hygiene supplies for homeless veterans which we donated to what was then the VA’s Homeless Veterans Outreach Center in Rock Island. That was a satisfying ministry, but following the second such collection we caught a vision for an expanded ministry to the local homeless veteran population.
Consultations with the Outreach Center identified a need for essential household supplies - cleaners, paper- and laundry products, a broom, rags, etc - for veterans who were transitioning out of homelessness and into housing of their own with the help of VA housing subsidies. In response, we birthed the ministry now called "Helmets of Hope," in which we provide essential household supplies to said veterans through partner agencies, currently, the VA's Community Resources and Referral Center(CRRC) and the Veterans Accessing Long-Term Opportunities and Resources program (VALOR) of the Humility of Mary Shelter, both located in Davenport, as well as the Salvation Army out of Peoria and Galesburg, and the Elks Lodge #298 in Davenport. We held the first Helmets fundraisers in August 2015, then delivered around 100 "move-in kits" - all of the supply items we provide - in December of that year.
Since those first steps, Helmets of Hope has expanded to serve veterans in a wide area in Illinois and Iowa. For a time, our service area reached to the Illinois-Indiana border.
As of September 2022, we've made more than 130 supply deliveries to our partners, providing more than 25,000 supply items to as many as 800, if not more, veterans. Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we averaged about two deliveries - nearly 400 items total - per month.
Here are some images of Helmets of Hope in action: