Organization hosting a Veterans Fundraiser and Appreciation event on May 29 to help fund vet-specific financial rehabilitation programs.
Long Island, NY - May 10, 2018 - Rhonda Klch is founder of the Equity First Foundation, a non-profit organization based out of Mount Sinai that, for the past 20 years, has been working with consumers that are in financial distress, helping them to get back on their feet when things seem most dire.
“We do budget planning, we help them reset expectations and walk them through hardships in these economically difficult times,” she said. “We offer services such as debt settlement, credit restoration, and budget planning…a variety of things to help the clients get back on track when they're not able to do it on their own.”
The month of May is known as Military Appreciation Month, and since the Equity First Foundation already does a great deal of work with local Long Island veterans in the community, Klch decided to host a Veterans Fundraiser and Appreciation event on May 29 for the men and women who put their lives on the line protecting the freedoms that we all hold so dearly.
“Unfortunately, due to the lack of funds in some of the communities right now, our workshops so far have been done for free. We have a list of programs that we're getting ready to do for the next six months, but we don't have any funding in place to actually be able to do them,” she said. “So our intention with this event is to have our sponsors help support the programs that we are getting ready to do, but at the same time that we're bringing out our sponsors, we're also going to be inviting some military families.”
Equity First has been promoting the event to military families, and have chosen a venue for their fundraiser in Patchogue called Indigo, a new restaurant that's only been in business for approximately four months. Klch and her husband had been dining there recently and, upon chatting with the owner, discovered him to be more than willing to assist with the Equity First Foundation’s upcoming veterans’ event.
“The owner introduced himself to us and asked what I did for a living, and after I told him he said that if there was anything he could do to help, he would be willing to do that and more,” she said. “So we got together a couple of weeks ago and I approached him with the idea of doing an event at Indigo to support the military. There’s a tremendous military presence in the Patchogue community, and it's a great way to help a brand new business that's going to be helping us in turn.”
At the Veterans Fundraiser and Appreciation event, Indigo will be putting out a delicious spread for attendees, and anyone showing a military ID will be able to enjoy free food and drinks at the event, making it a fun night out while also serving to support a very important cause as well.
The funds raised at the event, Klch noted, will go towards a variety of financial literacy workshops aimed at helping veterans in all walks of life get on their feet after the trials and tribulations that life has unexpectedly thrown at them.
“As example of what we do, you’ll often see us at the Yaphank jail...we help a lot of incarcerated veterans. While they're incarcerated, the goal is to sit there with them and help them come up with a financial plan,” she said. “While they're incarcerated, we work on their credit, we work on a budget, we help them create a plan and deal with it now so they don’t have to deal with when they’re leaving the facility. Do they have a pension or not? Where are they going? Do they have a family or are they on their own? We work with the veterans and develop plans of action for each one of them.”
In addition, volunteers from Equity First also conduct workshops in group homes, colleges and universities, including a recent event at Suffolk County Community College where are they hosted a financial literacy program for student veterans.
“We go to all of these lengths for veterans, but there's no funding to provide the programs, so we've been providing all the programs right now at our own expense,” Klch said. “But we want to be sure that we can continue to offer all of the programs and the one-on-one support, and in order to do that we obviously have to hold a fundraiser because grants are very hard to come by.”
Klch noted that she was especially attracted to the plight of veterans in the community not because she personally knows an active service veteran, but simply because of the intense respect and appreciation she feels for all men and women in uniform.
“As somebody who's very philanthropic and exceptionally patriotic, I'm so thankful and grateful for the opportunity I have as a business owner because of the work that the veterans have done for us,” she said. “Without people volunteering and putting their best foot forward and being selfless, we wouldn't be here. So I like to surround myself with as many good people as possible, and unfortunately I've seen a lot of good people have bad things happen to them. So if I can step in and help them out financially, help them figure out a pathway or even be a mentor, I always love to be able to assist in any way I can.”
Aside from Military Appreciation Month, there are other times of the year that the Equity First Foundation gets involved with our vets; board member Robert Novotny is an 8-year Marine veteran, Klch noted, and as a result many of the military activities that they have been involved in have been guided by the fact that they have a veteran as one of their own as well.
“We're actually working on several very large programs for our veterans at the moment,” she said. “And if those come through we're going to need to hold 10 fundraisers to be able to support them!”
The Equity First Foundation’s support of veterans doesn't end there, however- they're also running a campaign during which they are accepting nominations from the families of veterans to be considered for an exciting week-long retreat, Klch said.
“There is a retreat house called The Haven, which is a house in Upstate New York, and they have donated a week for us to give to one of the military families,” she said. “So in addition to our fundraising event at the end of this month, we're also going to be honoring one particular family. We're still accepting nominations, and at the event itself we are expected to have some local politicians in attendance who are going to present proclamations and the actual gift of the retreat itself.”