America Supports You: USA Cares Gets $2.5 Million Boost
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 27, 2006 USA Cares recently received a $2.5 million grant to further its mission of assisting servicemembers and their families, organization officials said.
“I can’t explain how happy we are about it. We’re just beyond thrilled,” Barbara Yaw, USA Cares’ director of communications, said. “We’re very blessed.”
The grant came from the Iraq Afghanistan Deployment Impact Fund administered by the California Community Foundation. The foundation is a leading charitable organization in Los Angeles County, managing over $1 billion in assets.
The California Community Foundation surprised the Radcliff, Ky., organization last year as well, Yaw said.
“It was actually a surprise for us, the last week of December 2005, to open up this plain envelope and see $1 million donation sitting there,” she said. “It seemed every day to them, and it was an amazing, shocking thing for us here in the office.”
Wise use of that $1 million earned the nonprofit organization an invitation to apply for the larger grant, Yaw said. The long application process concluded two weeks ago, when USA Cares got the phone call that its request for the two-year grant had been approved.
USA Cares helps bridge financial gaps for families of servicemembers deployed anywhere in support of operations in Iraq or Afghanistan, Yaw said. The majority of the nonprofit organization’s assistance relates to quality-of-life issues.
“If we have an issue where there’s been a financial mistake by the military, and … that sometimes happens, we would provide monies directly to the service provider for electric to keep the electric going (for example.),” she said.
USA Cares is a member of America Supports You, a Defense Department program highlighting ways Americans and the corporate sector support the nation’s servicemembers.
Currently eligible families can receive up to $750 in assistance for family needs, including food, diapers, formula, electricity and rent, Yaw said. If there’s an additional need, the case is re-evaluated. Two grants is the absolute maximum, however.
If the need is larger than USA Cares can handle on its own, it routinely partners with other organizations that might be able to help the family, she said.
When it comes to mortgages, USA Cares can offer a maximum of $7,500 in assistance to homeowners, Yaw said. Because of the grant, however, the organization is looking at its process to see what adjustments and allowances can be made for the mortgage assistance portion of its program.
“We have also partnered with an organization called (Homeownership) Preservation Foundation, and we have saved over 80 military families’ homes from foreclosure,” she said.
The assistance USA Cares offers is always in the form of a grant and does not discriminate, she said. “If you’re a military family, we support you,” she said, adding that the organization has granted nearly $1.7 million since its founding in March 2003.
In accepting the $2.5 million grant, USA Cares agreed to file reports on how the money was being spent, something Yaw said was not an issue for the group. “We’re hovering somewhere around 97 cents on the dollar going back to military families and servicemembers, and we’re working very hard to move that up to 100 percent,” she said.
“We feel very, very secure in the fact that we’re responsible with every penny,” she said.