By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL email@example.com
---- — GOSHEN — In January, senior veterans or their widows 75 years and older can apply for assistance through a new program for residents of Goshen.
The program, Service to Senior Veterans Project (SSVP), was launched during a meeting at First Baptist Church of Goshen Thursday. The program is a joint effort between Goshen’s Celebrate American and North Central Indiana Teen Challenge, a Christian-based rehabilitation center for teenagers and young adults in Elkhart.
“You and I are going to make him (or her) happy because we are going to take care of him,” said Al Lane, who expanded Goshen’s Celebrate America in 2004. “You and I are going to put on a screen door for a widow that needs a door replaced.”
The SSVP program will initially provide handyman, landscaping and garden maintenance programs to senior veterans or their widows. Other services will be provided as specific senior veteran needs are identified and program resources are identified.
Goshen City Mayor Allan Kauffman said he appreciates the veterans who laid aside their lives and fought a war, then came back to raise their families and make Goshen a better community.
“Some of them are to proud or to humble to ask for help,” Kauffman said.
Kelly Huffman, Goshen’s Celebrate America sponsor chairperson, said “this whole program is for vets. This is for you.”
“We hope to have our first vet ask for assistance (in January),” Huffman said. “We are in the infancy stages. This is going to be a work in progress, we may have to adjust boundaries and age as we continue. It’s going to be a community effort to identify vets and plug them into the program. We need community support through churches and service organizations.”
Regional Director Meredith Perks, representing U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly said, “we give our gratitude to the program being developed here. Community commitment and involvement is very important.”
District Director Ben Falkowski, representing Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, R-IN Second District attended the meeting and shared a personal story of how a young veteran having problems with alcoholism became involved with a World War II veteran who needed help around his home.
“They helped each other and that’s what this program is about,” Falkowski said. “I’m proud to be a part.”