Visio borrower Lisa George has dedicated her life to helping veterans who return home, and in many cases, face homelessness, PTSD, medical neglect and job displacement. It hasn’t been an easy road since she started her non-profit, Unity Foundation, in Atlanta, Georgia. By working with the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, making connections with other non-profits and spending many hours talking with the veterans themselves, George and her team have focused on supporting veterans with a holistic approach that begins with a safe and secure home.
One of the main goals of her organization was to create a place where previously homeless veterans could live collaboratively, while gaining life skills, counseling, job training and care that went beyond just providing food and shelter.
In June, 2015, George’s vision became a reality when she, the community, and special guests Clayton County Commissioner Jeff Turner and Command Sergeant Major Retired Anthony Danwith cut the ribbon surrounding a newly renovated 5-bedroom home, originally donated by Wells Fargo and renovated with a loan from Visio.
Initially after receiving the donated home, George was unsure where to begin. The house was in poor condition and needed significant repair. One of her associates suggested she seek out a hard money loan. From there, she searched for lenders and decided on Visio. She started working with Visio account executive, Lou Cuneo, right away.
“After researching several companies, the best option was Visio, and we are happy we chose them,” George said. “The house was a mess, and the repairs needed were extensive. When I met Lou, he helped me through the process. Now it’s beautiful. There will be five veterans, each with his own room, and the common room is where they will have weekly education workshops on mental health, entrepreneurship and self-esteem.”
For the five veterans who will be housed at the newly-remodeled home, this program represents a new start. George already has several partnering institutions in place that will help the mental, physical and financial needs of the participants and is hopeful that her program will expand to include more veterans in the future.
“As we grow, we can take on more. We have 7,000 homeless veterans in Atlanta alone,” George said. “The goal is to get them off the streets. We are talking about those that decided to go and keep us safe, the least we can do is give back what they’ve earned.”
Unity Foundation is on track to do just that with up to eight homes that will be donated and renovated in the future. George plans to further the veteran housing program, while at the same time, continuing many of the other events put on each year; events like their back-to-school project, coming up at the end of July.
The annual back-to-school fundraiser helps the children of veterans, single parents in poverty and at-risk youth obtain school supplies that are badly needed. Companies can sponsor this and other events on a one-time or annual basis for as a low as $200, George said.
For now, George can’t wait to start working with her new program participants and getting them the care they richly deserve.
“We have a letter on the wall of the house from President Obama that says good job, keep doing what you’re doing. And we continue to take it one road at a time,” George said. “When our veterans return home, they should not be facing medical neglect, foreclosure and unemployment. As a government, a country and a community, we need to do our part.”
Unity Foundation Group, Inc. is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501c(3) organization that serves Georgia residents. Visit http://unityfoundationgroup.org/ or email them,firstname.lastname@example.org, to find out more, or to make a donation.