BWF and the State of Qatar Partner to Support Florida Veterans
The Bob Woodruff Foundation and the State of Qatar teamed up once again, with the State of Qatar contributing $5 million to assist Florida veterans affected by Hurricane Ian, one of the deadliest storms to hit the US mainland in the 21st century. The donation came exactly one year after the storm hit and will provide US veterans living in affected counties with support through the long road of hurricane recovery. Given Florida’s significant veteran population, ranking third in the US, many were impacted by the hurricane.
Meet the 2023 Hurricane Ian Recovery Fund Grant Recipients
One year after Hurricane Ian, BWF awarded a total of $1.26 million in aid to six organizations dedicated to supporting the military and veteran community in Florida’s affected areas, with a focus on long-term recovery.
These recipients offer a diverse range of services and opportunities for the military and veteran community in the areas affected by Hurricane Ian:
Boley Centers: Boley Centers is on a mission to enhance the lives of individuals in recovery through high-quality treatment, rehabilitation, employment, and housing services. With a decade of experience serving veterans, they offer housing and employment programs to those in critical need. This funding will aid 80 veteran households affected by Hurricane Ian, providing financial assistance for transportation, utilities, food, employment, and housing. “We are grateful to the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the Embassy of the State of Qatar for their invaluable support in bridging the gaps here at Boley Centers and helping veterans transition from feelings of hopelessness and despair to a future filled with optimism, independence, and success,” remarked Kevin Marrone, CEO of Boley Centers.
Home Base, A Red Sox Foundation, and Massachusetts General Hospital Program: Florida ranks 49 out of 50 on Mental Health America’s Access Ranking, underscoring the challenges faced by veterans in accessing high-quality mental health care. Home Base Florida uses a community empowerment model to increase veterans’ access to trauma-informed, culturally competent care. This funding will support peer-to-peer community outreach and evidence-based mental health care for 60 veterans and their families in areas impacted by Hurricane Ian.
Homeless Empowerment Program (HEP): HEP’s mission is to empower homeless and low-income individuals and families by offering housing, food, clothing, and supportive services to help improve their quality of life through self-sufficiency. With this funding, HEP will provide rental assistance and community-based case management to at least 75 veterans impacted by Hurricane Ian, helping them secure permanent housing and offering reliable shuttle services to the C.W. Bill Young Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center for critical healthcare access. CEO Ashley Lowery emphasizes, “This is not charity; this is help. We believe in people helping themselves.”
Rutgers University Foundation – Vets4Warriors: Vets4Warriors, operating under Rutgers University Foundation, provides “upstream support” to veterans and their families, offering emergency financial aid, mental healthcare connections, and peer support. Peers are also veterans, military family members, or caregivers, helping callers in crises and with participants to achieve life goals. This grant will ensure that Vets4Warriors’ peer staff can continue to provide vital support to at least 500 veterans and their families in areas impacted by Hurricane Ian.
St. Vincent de Paul CARES (SVdP CARES): SVdP CARES serves veterans and their families across 16 counties in Florida. Leveraging the Rapid Rehousing (RRH) model and Housing First principles, they have successfully housed and stabilized numerous veterans. Due to various challenges, including the effects of Hurricane Ian and economic pressures, more veterans are facing homelessness. This funding will provide emergency shelter for 18 veterans in Hillsborough County and assist the essential needs of at least 46 veterans and improve their household stability in counties affected by the hurricane.
Volunteers of America of Florida (VOAFL): Since 1992, VOAFL has been addressing the comprehensive needs of Florida veterans, providing transitional and permanent supportive housing, case management, behavioral health care, and other supportive services. With the increasing demand for services due to increased cost of living and a lack of affordable housing, this funding will ensure that at least 100 veterans in counties impacted by Hurricane Ian receive assistance to improve their household stability in various ways, including housing, food, and transportation. VOAFL serves veterans in Charlotte, Manatee, Highlands, Hillsborough, and Brevard Counties.
Block Party Reception in Tampa
To announce the partnership and our first round of grants, we invited our Tampa Bay partners to a celebration where we recognized our grant recipients and the resilience of the Florida veteran community in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. We were grateful to be joined by Mayor of Tampa Jane Castor, Congresswoman Katherine Harris, Fort Myers City Councilmember Liston Bochette III, the Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the US, His Excellency Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani, and our own Bob Woodruff. The block party was a joyous occasion, highlighting the power of collective effort and compassion, and honoring those who have worked tirelessly to aid Florida’s veterans in their time of need.
The partnership between BWF and the Embassy of the State of Qatar will continue through 2024, as we continue to grant funds to Florida organizations supporting veterans in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.
Learn more about our partnership with the Embassy of Qatar here.