WVFV Announces $20,000 in Grants
Emergency Distress Grants Help Injured Vets Cope with COVID-19 Impact
MYSTIC, CT. Work Vessels for Vets, Inc. is pleased to announce $20,000 in grants have been awarded to injured veteran-entrepreneurs in Connecticut and across the country. Businesses owned by injured veterans in 13 states received equipment and emergency funds from Work Vessels for Vets of Mystic, Connecticut. Work Vessels for Vets is a national charity that gives equipment to wounded veterans who are starting a business. Since 2008 this volunteer-run charity has awarded more than $3 million in equipment to 2000 veteran-entrepreneurs across America.
“Small businesses everywhere are facing extreme and unprecedented income interruptions, loss of business contracts and the pain of letting new hires go,” said John Niekrash, President and Co-founder of Work Vessels for Vets, Inc.. “Many start-ups do not qualify for federal financial aid programs. These hardships are more acute for injured veteran businesses whose owners are also facing personal challenges coping with disabilities, compromised health conditions, and living with PTSD.”
Work Vessels for Vets donors stepped up to make help coming through with $20,000 to help just four days after the plea went out. Just as rapidly, grants of $500 to $3500 in cash or equipment went out to 20 veteran-owned businesses in thirteen states who were facing closure and hardship due to the corona pandemic. Their businesses are experiencing cancelled contracts and loss of cash flow to buy raw materials or pay employees. The new farmers suffer from closure of farm markets and cancelled restaurant and school contracts for local produce. The WVFV grants helped them open online markets or adapt their services to the new COVID-19 reality.
“This assistance has made all the difference in keeping us going through these tough times,” says veteran Rodney Plettner, of Coastal Wood Company, a Niantic, Connecticut online furniture business. “Now we can purchase larger quantities of materials to complete contracts for high-quality items at affordable prices. ” He used the grant to purchase materials to turn into fine furniture. His fine furniture products can be seen on Instagram at CoastWoodCompany.
Injured USMC CPL Gulaid Ishmail and his wife Davina of New Britain, Connecticut just opened their new INI Sips Coffee Shop when COVID hit. The grant helped adjust to online sales and safe take-out service.
WVFV purchased a desperately needed cargo van for injured Army veteran Sean Casselberry of Colorado to restart his construction business and complete contracts that had been suspended.
SSG Terry Flannery of Union, Kentucky received a new commercial miter table from Work Vessels for Vets. He refocused his business and opened a specialty woodworking and design shop.
“I was forced to sell my drone that I use for my aerial video business,” said Army 2LT Kyle Stewart of Mickleton, New Jersey. “I had to cancel several contracts and missed out on new opportunities. This grant means I can purchase the drone I need to get back in operation.”
SGT Joyce Carter of Raeford, North Carolina opened her specialty beauty salon in February this year. After six weeks in business, she followed the orders to shutter her shop, causing deep financial hardship for her and her five children. “Words cannot express the feeling I have for WVFV,” she wrote. “To open up and be closed back up had started making me feel down. Thank you WVFV for your support! I love you guys from my soul!”
“New Veteran-farmers used the emergency grant funds to buy seeds, feed or to pay veterinarian bills for new lambs or calves, etc. Afterall, farmers can’t postpone Spring! Many of the new farms had their restaurant contracts cancelled for meat, produce and eggs. Social distancing has closed farmers markets,” offered Cathy Cook, Executive Director.
Army Captain Frank Ritz used his emergency grant to purchase solar powered poultry fencing to expand his Barnardsville, North Carolina farm and Sgt Lucas Papineau in Vermont used the award to buy a freezer to expand products for his veteran-run farmers market. Army Major Robert Jones of Glenburn, Maine used his $500 grant to buy hundreds of seedlings to plant a veterans’ victory garden to feed dozens of families in need. Micky Doto, a veteran farmer in Mayslanding, New Jersey received an auger attachment to the tractor he had previously received from Work Vessels for Vets. Now he can complete fencing his expanded fields and grow more produce for new markets. And Capt. Michael Martucci of Wise, Virginia was able to expand his operation to build coops for the 100 turkeys he is adding to his farm.