When the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center polled its inpatients in the early 1990s, it discovered that 25% of the treated veterans had no place to go when they were discharged. A veteran of the Marines, Judge Harry Pregerson formed U.S.VETS to address the lack of housing available for veterans who are homeless. Today, U.S.VETS – Las Vegas operates housing programs such as residential back-to-work program and finding permanent and affordable housing for veterans.
At any one time, U.S.VETS – Las Vegas houses about 260 veterans its two facilities and works with them to find permanent employment and achieve self-sufficiency. Each veteran receives intensive case management, health services, transportation, and life-skills development to help them gain a strong footing in civilian life. They learn about budgeting, healthy relationships, and resumé building while living among their peers, helping out in facility tasks, and receiving daily living essentials. U.S.VETS – Las Vegas helped 140 veterans return to full-time work in 2011.
The volunteers—who are called in by police officers, paramedics, firefighters, or hospital personnel—assist family members and other witnesses by providing emotional support, helping arrange necessary follow-up services, and notifying family and friends of the crisis. Volunteers can also work as liaisons between victims and emergency or hospital authorities, and they provide information, referrals, and other resources to ensure that individuals receive ongoing assistance. They also supply these trauma survivors with useful resource guides containing support-group and counseling recommendations, funeral-planning assistance, contact information for crisis hotlines, and other valuable information.
Helping Hands's food pantry provides baskets packed with traditional Thanksgiving food to low-income seniors to ensure they have a nice holiday meal they can share with others. The baskets bear traditional holiday fare including a small whole chicken, stuffing mix, mashed potatoes, gravy, yams, two cans of fruit, and two cans of vegetables.
The Monkey Gym's founders—Kerry Cutler, a former YMCA gymnastics instructor, and Tony Cooper, a wrestling coach and teacher—opened their nonprofit, 6,500-square-foot rumpus room to provide healthy playing opportunities for children regardless of economic or ergonomic barriers. At twice-weekly open-gym sessions, kids can tumble, bounce, sprint, and gambol under the watchful eye of coaches trained in the arts of gymnastics, wrestling, and cheerleading. Junior gymnasts can imitate the facility's namesake simian by swinging from rings or by hurling themselves into the Monkey Pit, a playpen filled with hundreds of yellow foam cubes. Artistically inclined youngsters, meanwhile, can add to their oeuvre in the on-site studio, the walls of which are bedecked with student-made art and encrusted with Swarovski crystals that possess no magical powers.
Founded in 1950, Variety has worked for more than half a century to improve the lives of children in Nevada and around the world, with a focus on kids with special needs. Programs such as Kids on the Go! and Kids at Play! aim to improve children's access to community resources, providing adaptive medical equipment and funding playgrounds with padded fencing and wheelchair swings. Events throughout the year allow the organization to fund new programs and makes guests' hearts swell like a crowd around a talking beagle.