Read the inspiring story of Alana and her family:
My husband and I met when we were 16 years old. We chose to enlist in the Army when we turned 18. I served for 8 years as military police and he as an armored crewman for 3 ½ years. We have two children, a 10 year old boy and an 8 year old girl.
After discharge, we returned home to Las Vegas but found ourselves struggling. Most of our family had moved out of state and the quality of education was poor. Since my mother lives on Long Island, in September of 2014 we decided to move to New York in hopes of a better education for our kids and reuniting with family.
Things did not turn out as we hoped. Shortly after arriving, we had no choice but to request help from DSS and enter a shelter. My husband has a disability preventing him from working and my job did not pay enough to afford even a moderately priced rent. We, like many other homeless Long Islanders, saw no way out.
In December of 2014, we received a call from a case manager from United Veterans Beacon House (UVBH), a partner of United Way of Long Island. This call would change our lives. The case manager introduced us to Frank, the President & CEO of UVBH, and their generosity made it possible for our children to have some resemblance of a Christmas that year. That day, Frank also asked us if we would like a brand new townhouse in a development being built for veterans. In May of 2015, we were grateful to have been chosen as one of the first families to call this house a home.
The support did not stop there. I was offered a position at UVBH as support staff for the veterans shelter located on the VAMC grounds, and was later promoted to house manager of an emergency family shelter. However, a major issue with living on Long Island is that traveling quite difficult – particularly in the winter. The car we purchased was old and kept breaking down. I would often have to commute hours to work from Nassau to Suffolk using a bus or train because the car could not handle long periods of driving time. I never knew if the car would make it to its destination, and I never felt driving it with my children. My feelings proved to be correct when one morning as my husband was taking the kids to school the entire front tire fell off the car while he was driving. Thank goodness nobody was injured.
In May of 2016, my family was the recipient of a car through United Way of Long Island’s Wheels for Warriors program. We now have a safe, trustworthy car and I no longer have to worry each time my children are driving with me.
Transitioning from military life is daunting. When I was serving I knew no matter what I was going through, there was someone who I could talk to who would understand – we were a family. I once again have that.
I currently work full time at UVBH, and have been living in the townhome for nearly two years. I could not be more grateful for what they and United Way has done for my family.