Modest Needs helps a combat veteran’s family find a home


Modest NeedsBy Walker Bristol

It’s shocking how quickly any one of us can fall into homelessness—simply getting injured and fired can leave one unable to pay their bills, and thus left on the street. Modest Needs, our current Poverty and Health beneficiary, is reaching out to those who have been stricken by poverty to give them the small financial support they need to get back on their feet. And their model is tremendously effective: Two-thirds of grant recipients from Modest Needs become financially secure enough to make a donation to the organization later in their life. But it isn’t just this statistic that makes their mission so compelling—it is the personal stories of those helped.

Albert, a combat veteran evicted after underemployment left him unable to pay rent, was profiled as a part of the Modest Needs Profiles in Courageous Generosity series. A series of simple, unfortunate events left someone who many in this country would praise as an American hero for his service without a home or steady job, and no way to help support his family. And Albert’s one of many—almost a third of the homeless population are veterans.

After returning from service, Albert lived in Washington state and was working as a handyman, living paycheck to paycheck to support himself, his wife, and two children. When work slowed down in May 2012 and he was unable to pay his rent or utilities, Albert’s landlady kicked them out of their apartment. Albert “became a statistic—another homeless veteran.”

The Veteran’s Administration helped him get a truck to move his family and their belongings to a shelter, but the shelter wouldn’t be available to them for several days after his eviction—Albert needed help to afford a hotel room in which they could stay for the layover, to keep his family from living in a vehicle and to keep himself presentable while looking for work. He only needed a few hundred dollars, and he could potentially find a steady job while keeping his family off the streets.

$285, to be exact—and through a Modest Needs Emergency Fund grant, which aids those in immediate need without going through the longer application process, they were able to find a local hotel to stay in for those few days. Albert set out then to “pass on the kindness that [was] shown to him, and to do what he can to ensure that no one has to know what it is to be homeless.” And only two days after entering the shelter, Albert became a Modest Needs monthly donor.

His story is unique but not unprecedented: Veterans are often the recipients of support from Modest Needs, and the grants are often not nearly as big as you’d imagine, yet they can do tremendous work and inspire tremendous purpose. Albert has since found a new job and home, an achievement that could have either been hindered or even impossible by now without this small support from empathetic people. You can find more stories like his on the Profiles in Courageous Generosity page of the Modest Needs website. We have to continue to care about relieving poverty, for as we can see in Albert’s story, a tiny bit of misfortune can drown one in poverty overnight. It’s our responsibility to see ourselves in others, and help those who have been affected. Albert, and everyone Modest Needs has supported, is surely thankful for your empathy.