February 4 at 4:16pm

Women’s group opens hearts, wallets to veterans

Veterans Assistance of San Diego is the beneficiary of a generous donation from the Women of Reform Judaism, in conjunction with the organization’s centennial celebration.
Members of Chai Society, comprised of former board members of the WRJ, held a Dec. 11 workshop called “Helping Our Veterans: Local Stories and Outreach Efforts” during the parent group’s 49th Assembly & Centennial Celebration in San Diego.

Following a tradition of giving back to the host communities in which they gather, members of Chai Society and WRJ districts joined to donate more than $2,900 in cash and retail gift cards to VASD, a division of Interfaith Community Services.

Additional donations included towels, cosmetics, socks, undergarments, wallets, purses, hats, flashlights and computer thumb drives.

Two local leaders of Chai Society, Lauren Shapiro-Milana and Ellen Pollack, brought VASD to the attention of their organization. The group’s leadership team invited representatives of Interfaith Community Services to attend their workshop and to share details of its supportive services for veterans.

“It was a fun thing to be a part of,” said Craig Jones, ICS interim director. “They are a delightful bunch of women.” Jones was joined in speaking at the workshop by Dean Dauphinais, VASD program manager, Johnina Noar, case manager, and Victor Limon, a Vietnam veteran and a client of VASD.

Limon, 70, a Marine helicopter crew chief during the war, shared his story of becoming homeless after large medical expenses related to treatment of his late wife’s cancer drained his resources. After coming to Interfaith, the Veterans Assistance program landed Limon a transitional housing slot and is working toward helping him find permanent housing.

It was a great experience for the women at the workshop, reported Chai Society co-chairwoman Cynthia Wolf.

“The success of the project was possible because WRJ lives its tagline, ‘Stronger Together,’ she wrote in a statement for the organization. “Victor’s story of being a homeless veteran who was and is helped by Veterans Assistance of San Diego was especially powerful. Workshop attendees benefited from their participation in the workshop.”