Home Front Cares doesn't have the supply to meet growing demand

By: MICHAEL S. HUMPHREYS Special to The Gazette
August 31, 2014 Updated: August 31, 2014 at 4:50 am
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It's been a busier year than ever for the staff of Home Front Cares, but even with a year of record revenue, demand is outpacing need for the local veterans nonprofit.

"Part of that is due to the drawdown and part of that is still a continuation of the economy," said April Speake, executive director of Home Front Cares.

After a successful marketing campaign last year, the organization was able to raise $1 million to be spent on deserving veterans and their families in Colorado. Although revenue has gradually increased every year since the organization's start 11 years ago, it has not kept pace with need.

"We feel it is a moral obligation to keep plugging along," Speake said. "We've lost a lot of industry that employed a lot of people in Colorado Springs. I think that has something to do with it."

In July, Home Front Cares gave out more than $40,000 in direct support to veterans and their families.

"We help people throughout the state of Colorado," Speake said, "and money raised here stays in Colorado."

Speake said Home Front Cares is careful about how they provide assistance.

"We take every request. We validate the need," she said. "We validate service and we only pay the vendors."

Even as revenue increases, Speake said this is the first time that the organization has had to worry about saying no because needs are greater than their resources.

As a result, last year Home Front Cares focused its resources to prevent veteran homelessness, a growing need throughout the region.

"We had to prioritize where our resources would go," she said.

"So we really prioritized keeping a roof over someone's head. If they lose the roof over their head, then they probably can't keep their job, or get ready for a job or stay in school because their needs shift."

Home Front Cares began in 2003 as an all-volunteer organization and now has a full-time staff of five professionals supported by volunteers and a board of successful local entrepreneurs and military retirees.

Along with providing financial assistance to veterans and their families in Colorado, the organization also provides a referral service assisting more than 800 veterans last year with resource coordination.

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