Guest blog by Denise Conrad, National Auxiliary Emergency Fund Committee Central Division Chairman
As we all know, there are requirements to qualify for the Auxiliary Emergency Fund (AEF) grants. The first requirement is to be a member in good standing for at least the immediate past two consecutive years AND whose current membership dues are paid (three consecutive year’s dues).
But what can you do to help if the person is not eligible because they have not been a member long enough or are not currently a member? If they are eligible to join the Auxiliary (Goal 1) that is great, but it still doesn’t qualify them for the AEF grants. There is a way to help by using our strategic plan Goal 2 — Creating a Culture of Goodwill.
We have several outreach organizations in our communities who are ready and willing to help. We just need to make ourselves aware of these organizations and what they can provide. By establishing a relationship or at least contact information for these services, we can help direct a person on how and where to get help, even though we are not directly providing the assistance.
Let’s take a look at just a few of the organizations you could recommend. It does not matter whether or not a person or family is eligible for the AEF grant — these organizations can provide additional help in a time of crisis. Remember, a crisis can be other than a weather disaster. Losses due to fire, income, a loved one, deployment, etc. are just a few examples.
Both www.ALAforVeterans.org or www.Legion.org may provide additional assistance within another Legion Family program. Check with your department as some departments have a relief fund of their own, in addition to supporting the National AEF program.
operationhomefront.net may provide various types of assistance for the military and their families
fema.gov may provide much needed help in the case of natural disasters
redcross.org has a number of programs to help in the case of a disaster
fns.usda.gov/snap Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
- Provides food for shelters and other mass feeding sites
- Distributes food packages directly to households in need in limited situations
- Issues Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) benefits
www.acf.hhs.gov/ocs/programs/liheap Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
211.org or call 2-1-1. This website or calling center (toll free and open 24 hours, 7 days a week) has many assistance programs and is connected nationwide. Here are a few of the assistance programs they offer:
- Emergencies and weather disasters
- Crisis (bullying, sexual assault, alcohol/substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, emotionally abusive, or physically dangerous relationships)
- Food and health
- Housing and utilities
- Human trafficking
- Jobs and unemployment
- Military re-entry
Never assume those asking for help know how to make these contacts or have reached out to other organizations. When we are facing a crisis, we do not think as clearly as we normally would.
Knowing about these programs and how to help our fellow community member shows leadership (Goal 3) and this leadership strengthens our organization at all levels (Goal 4). Your willingness to help will make a lasting impression on the person seeking assistance. So, make sure they know you are the American Legion Auxiliary and are here to help (Goal 5).
Even if a person is not eligible to join the ALA, you have at the very least made an Auxiliary advocate and friend who you might be able to call upon in the future for assistance with an ALA event or project.
To learn more, visit www.ALAforVeterans.org.