Supportive Services for Veteran Families
Torris and Yolanda Ridgeway are determined to help spread the word: Building Futures can help veterans overcome financial setbacks that threaten their housing.
Since 2011, Building Futures has served as a partner in the VA-funded Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. Along with helping vets avert homelessness or become quickly housed after homelessness, the program also connects them with healthcare services, job training and budget planning, and helps pay for rent and transportation. Our partners in this effort are Abode Services, Operation Dignity, and Lifelong Medical Care.
The Ridgeways are both veterans (Torris of the Air Force; Yolanda served in the Army). The two dated briefly in high school. Both Torris and Yolanda served actively for ten years. Later, on a whim, Yolanda called Torris’s parents to ask about him. Soon, the two were married.
After being discharged, Torris worked steadily as a mechanic and driver. “He’s known as the neighborhood expert,” Yolanda reports with pride. The two have raised two children together Carena and William. Torris refers to the two as “golden.” “Never so much as a call or letter from their schools,” Yolanda adds. The teens are both looking ahead to attending college.
Torris, who served during Operation Desert Storm, says he was “embarrassed” to seek help after traveling to Baltimore to close out family affairs after his father’s death caused him to lose his job. “I always worked, so I never needed anything from the VA,” Torris says.
Today, both Yolanda and Torris are disabled. Yolanda relies on a walker for mobility. Torris walks with great difficulty. “The Ridgeways needed back rent and help with PG&E bills,” says Building Futures’ Case Manager, Yolanda Duran. Duran worked with the couple to fast track obtaining discharge papers, then to obtain the funds the family needed to keep their housing. “Because of this important program, the Ridgeways avoided homelessness,” says Duran.
Torris and Yolanda say they hope other veterans will hear their story and be encouraged to call the program for help. “Anyone who enlists is willing to put their lives on the line,” says Torris. “I feel like this assistance is ‘thank you’ for being there.”
Veterans seeking help should call Yolanda Duran at 510-992-9607.
This article first appeared in our Summer 2014 Newsletter.