National Service to Employment Project (NextSTEP) at the MA ICI Co-Coordinates Community Event for Veterans

November 29, 2011

During this year's US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) conference, the National Service to Employment Project (NextSTEP) at the Institute for Community Inclusion partnered with the Kentucky Commission on Community Volunteerism and Service (KCCVS) to give conference participants an opportunity to help build Kitchen Start-up Kits for homeless veterans transitioning into apartments.

Seventy attendees created over thirty kits that will be distributed through the Kentucky Department of Veteran Affairs Homeless Veterans Transition Program. Each kit provided kitchen utensils, flatware, glasses, a four-setting dish set, and a pot. The kits will be given to Kentucky veterans transiting from homelessness to housing as part of the Homeless Veteran's Transition Program.

Conference-goers were invited to help construct and assemble the Kitchen Start-up Kits as a way to learn more about how service activities such as this one build skills and prepare people with disabilities for employment. Participants also had the chance to talk to AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA members, and to reflect on how service positively affects both service providers and recipients.

The project was staffed by Kentucky AmeriCorps and VISTA members and the USBLN Student Advisory Council, and sponsored through generous donations from Merck & Co and its Veterans Leadership Network. NextSTEP's Dr. Sheila Fesko, Project Director, and Nancy Keeler, Trainin Associate, were joined by Dr. Patrick McKiernan, CADC, Homeless Veterans Outreach Coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Veteran Affairs, and Lanny Taulbee, Disability Coordinator at KCCVS, represented their organizations at the event.

NextSTEP strives to identify effective practices and promote service as a step toward improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities. It creates tools and materials, conducts research, provides technical assistance, and creates demonstration projects focusing on people with disabilities in volunteer and community-service roles. The USBLN helps build workplaces, marketplaces, and supply chains where people with disabilities are respected for their talents.