November 19, 2018

Francis Fund Update

The first donations to the Francis Fund in 2011 purchased "cooking kits"
for veterans in new apartments to help set up their kitchens
with meal-ready ingredients for their first dinners.

The good works continue at the Kansas City VA’s Homeless Program, thanks to the generosity of so many people who have donated to The Francis D. Sommer Memorial Fund for Homeless Veterans in the seven years since Francis’s passing. As of this writing, contributions to the fund have reached $27,937. I often wonder what he would think of all that has been done in his memory. I’m certain amazement would be his first response.

According to Melissa Jacobson, chief of the Voluntary Service Unit at the KCVA, most of the Francis Fund donations support needs and services identified by social workers managing the Housing & Urban Development/VA Supportive Housing (HUD/VASH) program. Approximately 400 recently-homeless Kansas City veterans (both men and women, and their children) are housed through this program.

Some specific purchases made through the Francis Fund in support of these veterans include the following:
  • 100 new mattresses
  • steel-toed boots and other safety equipment, so veterans can start jobs
  • microwave ovens and crockpots
  • utility assistance
  • shoes and coats
  • groceries
  • gas
  • apartment deposits
  • workbooks for mental health treatment in community-based programs
  • pocket calendars for keeping track of appointments, rent payments, etc.
  • thrift store tokens
VA social workers, Melissa notes, “are great at finding community-based resources” in support of efforts to give these men and women a hand up, rather than a handout.

To date, over 175 individuals and community organizations have supported the Francis Fund. There’s, of course, no overhead for administration of these funds because all donations are managed by the KCVA in support of Kansas City-area veterans in need.

Thank you to all who have generously contributed to this important work!

The Sommer Family