Boardman United Methodist Church held their “Trash and Treasure” sale a couple of months ago.  They donated the remaining treasures, and we loaded our “Big Blue” truck.  Sadly, the truck was so excited about the donation, it would not shut down and had to visit the repair shop!  Months went by waiting on the right part and the treasures sat and waited for their new home. Read more



Recently, a lady’s group from Redeemer Lutheran Church in Austintown Ohio conducted a “Trash and Treasure Sale”.  They had previously visited Veterans’ Outreach to gain a better understanding of the work we do and from that visit, decided that their sale would benefit Veterans’ Outreach.  The ladies proudly delivered the proceeds, and thanked God for the blessings, as do we.  We are so grateful for the community support of our mission to honor and serve all veterans.


Their work and the generous shoppers will help many veterans with situations that have overwhelmed them and allow them to have some peace.


A disabled vet living alone with several medical problems did not have a working phone.  Veterans’ Outreach purchased a phone and minutes for him immediately.  This veteran has deep issues that require him to be able to stay in touch with his health care providers.  A Veterans’ Outreach employee set up and activated the phone, the veteran left our building with a renewed sense of security.


A veteran came to our office in need of his medication.  He had called the VA and was told it would take two weeks to get his medication.  He was very concerned about what he would do in the meantime.  He was completely out of meds for his various life-threatening conditions.  Our Services Director called the VA to explain the serious nature of the problem.  The VA agreed to overnight the meds.  Veterans’ Outreach was able to secure a script for the one day he now needed and purchase those meds for him immediately.


Have you ever had a week that was so filled with “stuff” that could have filled a month?  I think we all have; they sneak up on you and then Bam!  You are in the middle of it.


It started with pulling together a birthday party for my dear friend, Joe Lavinger, a WWII veteran celebrating his 98th birthday at American Legion Post 532 in Columbus, Ohio.  Joe’s passion for life, love, and laughter keeps him going.  When asked about his secret by a TV reporter, he looked at her and said very matter of factly, “Eat right and exercise.”  After his time in the Navy, he became an entertainer, wearing zany outfits and crazy hats, thus he was nicknamed “Crazy Joe”.  He has helped thousands of veterans through Veterans’ Outreach for about 20 years now.

I don’t see Joe slowing down as long as there are people that he can make laugh and veterans to help!  He is truly a gift to our charity, our veterans, and to all that meet him.


The next morning I atteneded my big brother’s funeral, Richard (Dick) LaMont Ely of Centerburg, Ohio.  Dick was a hell of a track star and boxer before he joined the Army’s Signal Corp.  He was nicknamed “Sluggo”.  He worked with the 1st Cavalry, Navy Seals, and 82nd Airborne Division.

Dick was the last living relative from my birth family.  He was my biggest inspiration for  Veterans’ Outreach mission.  Out of his unspoken words and the fact that he rarely smiled, he shared his perspective and the hurt that dwelled within him.  He loved to tell short silly jokes, but wouldn’t really allow himself to laugh, but hoped others would.  Although he was blessed with a loving wife and family, he was tortured from those early years of his life that he gave to our nation.  He was shamed for his service.  Both my father (a Pearl Harbor Survivor) and my brother suffered with PTSD which has been with me all my life and drives me to help veterans all across our great nation.


My wife and I then traveled to Kentucky for a meeting with Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Keith Jackson.  Dr. Silas Session of Morehead University, Veterans’ Outreach Regional Manager Ray Layne, and I presented and discussed our project in eastern Kentucky, Heroes’ Passage – A Retreat for Veterans.

The Veteran retreat is meant to help the veteran heal from or at least learn to cope with their private and personal impacts of war.  We want to enhance their strengths, awaken a connection to the outdoors through farming and animal therapies.  We want to assist them with learning new marketable skills through affiliations with industry and educational facilities.

Commissioner Jackson and his staff could not have been more engaging and supportive of our efforts.  They gave us some contacts for the next steps.


After a great lunch with the team, we continued to eastern Kentucky to visit the future site of Heroes’ Passage.  The land was donated by Roger Hanshaw.  It is 110.5 acres of Kentucky wilderness stretching into two counties, Carter and Elliot near Olive Hill.  The picture is from three years ago, the first time I visited the property.  Today, the road is grown over.  Ray garnered his sister Carol and her husband Dave, a retired Drill Sargent, to drive us through the property.

The shiny black Silverado entered the property and straight down a deeply rutted hillside that at one time was a road and is now less than a path.  A two-mile trip took at least two hours.  The truck performed very well, but the horrible sound of branches scraping the beautiful paint job was very disturbing.  The property is shaped like a bowl, 1,100 ft. at the crest and down to 900 ft., where we plan to have a small lake. The land has five streams and timber and could be a “Fortress of Solitude”.

The visit was exasperating, Ray and Carol were constantly removing brush and trees off our path.  Mud flared up when we got stuck a few times.

Our driver, Jeff always remained calm and in control, simply said “No turning back…We are committed now”.  We finally reached the bottom and took a break.

As I stood there, surrounded by this part of Appalachia, I had forgotten how serene the property is, it is its own little world.  I so want to share the beauty and potential with disadvantaged veterans.  Turning a dream into reality is the mountain we must climb.  If you have the desire to help, please contact me at 330-398-2904.









Lastly, we paid a visit to the Veterans’ Outreach office in Grayson, Kentucky.

We were so elated to witness massive community support for the mission. The staff and volunteers were very busy while we were there, dealing with veterans needing help and accepting donations of food, household goods, and clothing.  The building that once seemed too big for us is now bursting at the seams with activity.  It was very satisfying to see our mission so alive and active, what a blessing.

It will take a little while to process all that happened that week.  We move forward while filing away the things we do every day.


John Ely

“To serve and honor”



As we were unloading a truck of food for our Freedom Food Pantry, a veteran stepped up to help.  He was proud to talk about his upcoming entrance to the local university’s school of business. 


This veteran came to us a few years back, homeless, staying at a local shelter.  He has transitioned from homelessness to living on his own and now will be furthering his education to better himself.


We were taken back by his encouraging statements of gratitude to Veterans’ Outreach.  He said that we helped him through the most difficult times in his life by providing food and helping him overcome urgent financial problems.  He said “This is a safe place”.