3/18/2014 10:21:00 AM Organization helps Williams veteran move into apartment
Frank Maryn sits at his kitchen table in the apartment he moved into about a week ago. Maryn, a veteran, moved into the apartment with the help of Catholic Charities Community Services. Ryan Williams/WGCN
Frank Maryn sits on his bed, the first he’s had in two years, in his apartment. Ryan Williams/WGCN
WILLIAMS, Ariz. - For the last two years, local veteran Frank Maryn called the American Legion home, where he'd end each day in a sleeping bag on the floor.
Although he was grateful to have a place to stay, the situation wasn't ideal. While Maryn eventually got a cushion to sleep on, he started out with just the sleeping bag. Maryn would have to stay awake until the Legion's bar closed at night. Furthermore, the Legion didn't have a place for him to shower.
"I felt guilty about, you know, I'm probably running up their utilities a little more than it would normally be," he added.
Since one of Maryn's responsibilities at the Legion is hanging up signs, he saw a poster for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program through Catholic Charities Community Services.
The goal of the organization is to end homelessness among veterans, according to Outreach Specialist Andrea Leggett. Besides helping with housing, SSVF also provides case management and can help veterans with employment, transportation, childcare and food needs.
"Homeless veterans have different needs than the rest of the homeless population, and so programs like this that hire veterans as case managers to work with the veterans kind of gives some different perspective," she said. "Our case managers, they kind of do a little bit of everything...so the veteran is working with the same person and they can get comfortable with the same person to kind of open up and get down to those underlying needs."
After Maryn saw the poster, he didn't call the organization right away.
"I was just going, well I'll land a full time job here or something and then I'll just take care of this myself," he said. "But then I fell off a roof in November, so that was two months of not doing anything."
Once Maryn started getting better, he decided to seek help from the organization. Now, he's been living in an apartment in Williams for a little more than a week.
Maryn is the first veteran SSVF staff has helped in Williams, but Leggett said they hope to get the word out to more veterans in need.
"This is a really veteran-friendly town, so a lot of people are really excited about the program," Leggett said.
SSVF is based in Flagstaff, and serves all of Coconino County and east Yavapai County.
Catholic Charities received a grant for more than $1 million last October for the program, and staff started helping veterans in December.The organization hopes to get its funding renewed for two more years. About 30-40 veterans are currently involved with SSVF.
To qualify for SSVF, veterans have to be homeless or facing eviction. The program can pay as much as five months of rent to help a veteran with housing costs.
"What we really try to do is pay the first month and then work on employment or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) or something," Leggett said. "And then we might do like they pay half and we pay half for a month and then eventually they'll pay the whole thing. But the case management can go on as long as they want to."
Maryn said working with the organization to get set up in his new place was a quick and easy process, adding that the staff has been friendly.
Maryn served in the Army from 1976 to 1978.
"I had a good job," he said. "I was crew chief on Hueys but I also jumped out of planes just for the fun of it."
In recent years, finding work has been a challenge for Maryn since the construction jobs he had been working have dried up with the struggling real estate market.
"Hopefully I'll find full time work and I won't need their help anymore," he said.
While Maryn was hesitant to share his story at first, he hopes it will encourage other veterans to seek help from SSVF.
"The guys that come in the Legion looking for help, usually we say, well the most we can do is feed you," he said.
But with the organization's help, Maryn is now getting settled in his new home.
"I've had a bed for two days, and except for when I was visiting somebody or something I've been on a floor, so that's different. It's nice. And the shower of course is great," he said. "I'm content."
More information about Supportive Services for Veteran Families is available toll free at 1-855-256-9419 or at www.catholicharitiesaz.org/veterans.