I was able to interview Ann Rudisill, who started Downriver For Veterans. She is an air force veteran herself. I am honored to take the time to learn their story. Please help them out if you are able.
What is Downriver For Veterans?
Per their website, “Downriver for Veterans is a 501(c)(3) dedicated to supporting local veterans in Downriver Michigan communities. We are dedicated to enhancing the pride and patriotism in all Michiganders by building a stronger, more supportive community around those who served us. After veteran status has been verified (Accepted documentation limited to DD-214 or valid military or retiree identification), we can serve veterans with emergency funds to assist with items such as rent, utilities, car repairs and other essential life expenses. In addition, we provide food, household goods and other life-essentials in times of need or due to unforeseen circumstances.”
How did Downriver For Veterans come about?
Ann says: “I was working for Southgate veterans court. I found out a lot of them don’t have shoes, coats, and some were on the edge of being homeless. I asked one veteran “why don’t you have shoes? (in the middle of November)” He said “There’s no where to get them. There’s nothing Downriver for veterans. There’s nowhere to get food, to get clothes, to get anything without paying for it”. I did my research and he was right, there was nothing for the 22 cities downriver. So I quit my job, took my social security, got a building, started DFV and we’ve been going for 4 years as of April 6 of this year. We’ve given away 48 cars, 2 mobile homes, given 6 veterans dentures, and we feed veterans every week. We are doing great things.
Who do you serve?
Ann says: “Any veteran South of Detroit, North of Monroe. 21 cities downriver. They have to be vetted and have proper paperwork. They can call, facebook, or email. We will take care of them or find someone that will. Every single veteran needs to register at the VA. If you don’t register, it’s hard to get help.”
How many locations do you have?
Ann says: Two. Our regular warehouse is located at 2447 Fort street in Wyandotte. Our new activity center located at 787 Southfield will have a pop up gym, PTSD classes, and the veteran organizations will be able to use our building for their events. Gardens are being built starting today. We have some of the top chefs from Detroit coming in once these gardens are grown to teach the veterans how to cook and get them healthy.
You were on TV with Mike Rowe, can you tell us about it and what came of it?
Ann says: “We were on the third season of Returning The Favor, the first episode. My girlfriend Mary heard of Returning The Favor, I had never heard of it. She wrote a letter about DFV and I and we got picked. If you watch the video when I darn near fall down and pass out, that was legit! I was in shock. He put us on the map. We have over 3,000 followers. We have people from Ireland, Australia, and Japan that keep up with us on our Facebook page. He heard we need a handicap van. But we found one in the meantime before he met us, and he gave us a check for $30,000 anyway.”
How can our community help?
Ann says: “We need the word to get out that we need a building, a school, or a church that we can take over to get our veterans off the streets. They don’t deserve to live on the streets. There’s no where downriver to put a veteran. We haven’t been able to have fundraisers because of the virus. You can send monetary donations, paypal, Venmo, or send a check. We’ve been good on food and toiletries at this time due to generous donations. The only thing we could use are watermelons, peppers, oranges, or apples from the fruit markets. Those are the things we can’t get. That’s all we ask for the 3 months of summer. We need to bring awareness. This is a need. Every single veteran needs to register at the VA. If you don’t register, it’s hard to get help.
Any events coming up?
Ann says: “We are having a ride in July with a band and food. It is a big event. We don’t know what we can do because of the virus. We are not able to do fundraisers at this time.”
How can our community connect with you?
Open Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/downriverforveterans/
Closed Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/downriverforveterans/?ref=share
Watch their episode of Returning The Favor here: