‘Coming Home’ concert to benefit local veteransWritten by Danielle Stanton | | firstname.lastname@example.org
After more than a year of work geared toward housing the chronically homeless, Veterans Matter in Toledo announced it has housed its 200th veteran nationwide, said founder Ken Leslie.
To raise money for the organization, a “Coming Home” benefit concert will take place April 6 from 2-7 p.m. at Forrester’s on the River in Toledo.
Veterans Matter has housed 65 veterans in Toledo, three in Michigan, nine in Indiana, nine in New England and 114 in Texas since its inception in February last year, Leslie said.
“It’s pretty exciting for us,” he said. “Two hundred veterans is a milestone for us and they were all done one at a time. … It’s a powerful thing. We take care of our own and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
More than $200,000 has been raised to date, Leslie said. What started as a local solution to a problem has grown to five regions and includes the support of Dusty Hill of ZZ Top, John Mellencamp and Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn.
Mitch Albom, a Detroit Free Press columnist and New York Times bestselling author, donated $15,000 in seed money to Veterans Matters’ Operation Michigan. Albom will serve as the organization’s Michigan co-chair. The goal in Michigan is to raise $75,000 and house 100 veterans, Leslie said.
“We view this more as a mission. … We’re not going to build a million-dollar fundraising organization,” Leslie said. “We have a target, then we move on to the next. … We’re reaching out to Detroit-area corporations.”
Kix Brooks will serve as Veterans Matter’s co-chair in Tennessee. The musician, along with other artists and celebrities, will voice public radio service announcements that will air nationwide from Armed Forces Day on May 17 to Memorial Day, Leslie said.
Veterans Matter began when Leslie, with a worker from Veterans Affairs (VA), visited local homeless at their camps to help find them housing. He discovered two of his friends were living at the camp. They did not have enough money to put a deposit on VA-supported housing.
His partner with the VA said they weren’t the only ones. Leslie discovered that about 35 people were in the same situation locally. Within days, he came up with the idea for Veterans Matter and 11 days later found financial support through ProMedica. Later, Lucas County Veterans Services Commission would come on board.
“I just wanted to get a couple guys houses,” said Leslie, who also owns his own headhunting firm. “I didn’t imagine … 200 veterans later — it’s pretty amazing.
“We’re really blessed.”
The “Coming Home” benefit concert April 6 will showcase several musicians including The Good, The Bad & the Blues, The Joe Baker Band, The Reese Daily Band, The Grape Smugglers with special appearances by Ramona Collins, Candice Coleman, Pat Lewandowski and others.
Tags: 1Matters, Candice Coleman, John Mellencamp, Ken Leslie, Kix Brooks, Lucas County Veterans Services Commission, Mitch Albom, Pat Lewandowski, Ramona Collins, The Good The Bad & the Blues, The Grape Smugglers, The Joe Baker Band, The Reese Daily Band, Veterans Affairs, Veterans Matter, ZZ Top