Life is getting a little easier for housing-insecure veterans and their families, thanks to a major grant from the Long Realty Cares Foundation. The grant was made public Jan. 12 in a check-presentation ceremony.
The $40,000 grant from the Long Realty Cares Foundation—the philanthropic arm of the Long family of companies—will be used by Esperanza En Escalante to purchase a new 15-passenger, wheelchair-accessible Ford Transit van to transport veterans to their appointments.
A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Esperanza En Escalante was launched in 1989 by the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 106 of Tucson, to provide housing and support programs—including nutrition, transportation, and employment readiness—to homeless and at-risk veterans and their families. Among its services: safe, secure transitional housing for up to two years.
“Reliable transportation is vital. This van is a lifesaver,” said Pat Beauchamp, Esperanza En Escalante’s director of operations. The new van replaces two aging vans—in service since 2008—that are “worn out, with tons of miles on them,” Beauchamp said. The van will transport program enrollees to appointments of all sorts, from medical to Social Security. Grocery shopping too, he said.
Established in 2002, the Long Realty Cares Foundation has raised more than $3.5 million to support community groups focused on education, health, community services, the arts and the environment. The foundation is funded largely by contributions from Long Companies agents and employees, as well as from the Long Companies organization itself. More than 200 nonprofits have received LRCF funding.
“We’re so grateful to be able to give back to the community, and especially to the veterans,” said Thom Melendez, LRCF board president. “This is the foundation’s 20th anniversary. We wanted to do something big, something that makes a real difference in people’s lives. I think we’ve done that.”