Saturday it was kickstands up at noon as 94 bikes roared out of the Pocono Mountain Harley Davidson in Tannersville and took to the road, all for a good cause. Valor Clinic Foundation in Jonas held its Eighth Harry Phillips Ride to benefit homeless veterans.
The first stop for riders was in Jonas at the Valor Paul’s House, a place where homeless veterans can find help from post-traumatic stress disorder in order to find peace and learn the skills to lead a more productive life.
As the bikers enjoyed refreshments, Mark Bayles, founder and CEO of Valor, thanked them and touched on how much the organization depends on donations and fundraising to keep the facility up and running.
“It costs $20 a day to house and feed a veteran, and all the veterans at Paul’s House receive three healthy meals a day that are specifically designed to help with health challenges faced by homeless veterans,” he said.
Although the house has 13 bedrooms, and each bedroom could hold two people, every veteran gets their own room.
“Each veteran has emotional wounds, scars or PTSD that can hinder the veteran’s ability to navigate relationship,” Bales explained to the bikers.
The goal at Valor is to provide each veteran with the ability to have a better life and to help them navigate the paperwork and system so they can receive benefits.
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One newcomer to Paul’s House, an elderly veteran, was eager to talk to the riders and tell them how Valor had saved his life.
“I was living in my vehicle alongside the turnpike when they found me. I tell you I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Mark and this place,” Russell Cogswell said.
Offering hope to the homeless
Valor assists homeless veterans through their outreach programs, such as the bimonthly stand-down events that provide clothing, food, health checks, permanent housing assistance. The outreach program even provides free haircuts to the veteran homeless population.
Move-in assistance to newly housed veterans is provided by Valor’s donations of housewares, kitchen items, furniture and linens.
You can help by donating serviceable items or by volunteering to help them move in, Bayles said.
Another important outreach program involves wearing the distinctive neon yellow Valor shirts and going out in local wooded areas, along water edges, abandoned buildings and under bridges seeking out homeless veterans.
“We need your help. Please notify us when you become aware of a local homeless person so we can offer help,” he said.
Valor shows appreciation
After visiting Paul’s House and taking a tour of the house, the bikers headed out to the final stop on their run for Valor – the American Legion Post 927 in Gilbert. There the riders were treated to a picnic hosted by Valor that included hot dogs, hamburgers, salads and beverages.
“We have lots of food and the weather couldn’t not have been better for a ride to benefit such a worthwhile cause,” said Eve Metz, the Valor volunteer who organized the ride.
How to help
You can help Valor by donating food, making clothing, money or your time as a volunteer at events.
When donating food, remember that life is different for the homeless population. Pull-top cans, foil pouches and jars of peanut butter are good choices.