CAPE ELIZABETH — The South Portland/Cape Elizabeth Rotary Club, which has been working to help homeless veterans for several years, has recently agreed to continue this commitment through the next rotary year.
The club works with the Maine Bureau of Veterans Services to assist homeless veterans by providing them with items they need for everyday living, and with things to help them prepare for a better future.
“Many of the patriotic men and women of Maine who served our country are homeless and have numerous needs,” Rotary Club President Kathy Cotter said. “We want to help.”
According to club member Dan Davidson, lack of transportation is a major impediment for homeless veterans who are trying to improve themselves. The Rotary Club provides veterans with transportation passes and gas cards.
Davidson said the club also provides bicycles in some instances, if a veteran doesn’t need to travel far.
“As their needs change, we provide different things,” he said.
Davidson said providing transportation for homeless veterans is important because it allows them to go to job interviews and medical appointments.
For veterans who are trying to transition into living on their own or into veterans housing, the club provides items such as beds and bedding and other household items. The club also provides phones, and gift cards for grocery stores.
Davidson said the club’s primary fundraiser is the annual sale of Christmas trees in South Portland’s Mill Creek Park. It also holds a road race, the VA2k, each spring.
While Davidson said he wasn’t sure how many homeless veterans benefited from the help provided by the South Portland/Cape Elizabeth Rotary Club, a press release from the club provided statewide statistics: Emergency shelter was provided to 499 homeless veterans in 2013.
Davidson said anyone can help the Rotary Club and that non-members are encouraged to donate to help homeless veterans. Davidson said the club believes it’s very important to help veterans because of the sacrifices they’ve made in serving the country.
“We support the homeless veterans in the area to thank them for their service to both the state and the country,” he said.
Cape Elizabeth residents Mary and Sandy Marsters brought their 10-year-old grandson, Teddy Baldacci, to buy a Christmas on Monday at the Rotary Club sale at Mill Creek Park in South Portland.