Former veteran Michael Reid is living proof that it’s never too late to dig out of a bad spot in life.
The 56-year-old Charleston native volunteered for a five-year stint in the Army during the late 1970s and worked various jobs until “drinking took me off track” and led to homelessness for about 20 years. About five years ago, he decided to clean up.
“I was tired of living like I was living. I humbled myself and got help,” says Reid.
He also turned to Goodwill Industries of Lower South Carolina for help in getting a job. Goodwill trained him to be a custodian and then not only gave him a job but transportation.
Among the many efforts that Goodwill takes to help get people back on their feet is a program specifically for veterans.
On Thursday and Friday, Palmetto Goodwill and Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center take the fight against homelessness to the streets with their 14th annual Stand Down Against Homelessness event. It will be 8 a.m.-1 p.m. at Armory Park in North Charleston.
Stand Down Against Homelessness offers medical and dental screenings and assistance, clothing, food, haircuts, and job and legal counseling for thousands of veteran and community homeless in the greater Charleston area.
Last year’s event saw just over 2,100 people and Goodwill provided more than $75,000 worth of clothing vouchers. Goodwill is asking for the community’s support with donations of clothing in order to help cover the needs of the individuals who attend the event.
Stand Down affords struggling veterans and local homeless people the opportunity to renew their spirit, health and overall sense of well-being.
But Goodwill and the VA’s fight against homelessness does not end there, it is a year-round battle. Goodwill has committed $800,000 in direct funding for the Veterans Education and Training Service (VETS) program, which helps homeless veterans reintegrate back into the workforce.
“Previously, Goodwill’s veterans reintegration program was grant funded,” says Robert Smith, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Lower South Carolina. “When the grant was not renewed in 2009, Goodwill felt that the need was too great and decided to continue the program, which transitions homeless veterans into the workforce.”
“We are extremely proud of Michael and all that he has accomplished,” said Smith. “It is our goal to continue to replicate this success with other homeless and struggling veterans.”