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"A Way To Give Back" - Charlotte Sun Front Page Article
North Port - Larry Fiata, a 56-year-old Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, credits Veterans' Outreach for helping him to right his own ship.
"I'll be perfectly honest with you, I'm an ex-offender," Fiata said. "I had some problems with drugs and alcohol use and did some time. When I came out, I started to clean up my life and needed some help."
Fiata learned of Verterans' Outreach from a counselor while in prison. He was given a packet of information that showed how the organization could assists veterans with housing, medical and job-hunting issues.
"With the help of Gary Fassl of the Veterans' Outreach effort here in North Port, I was just recently able to acquire some housing." Fiata said. "And with Gary's help, I was also able to get some furniture as well, from Goodwill."
Fiata added that with the help of Fassl and Veterans' Outreach, he now will qualify to get his two children, ages 15 and 10, out of foster care and back to living with him again.
Fassl, 72, lost a brother to the Vietnam conflict and always has wanted to give back in some way. Veterans' Outreach provided that outlet for him. The organization, headquartered in Struthers, Ohio, with offices in Srarsota FL, Grayson KY, Lexington Ky, and Decatur AL, is dedicated to providing any kind of immediate relief to veterans having trouble finding a home, paying a bill or funding an auto repair.
"We have fundraisers at stores, like a Publix or a Walmart," Fassl said. "We're set up with a table and a placard. For those who donate to us, we give them miniature flags for each branch of the military, American Flags and key chains. We have very low overhead and adminstrative costs, so almost all the money we raise goes to help veterans."
Fasll added Veterans' Outreach assists a transitional-housing facility on Taylor Road in Punta Gorda, which is owned by the Volunteers of America and houses up to 24 veterans who can stay there as long as two years.
"On a monthly basis we purchase a significant amount of paper products, cleaning products, toiletries and personal hygiene products for them," Fassl said. "And without the generous donations we get from the public, these purchases can't happen."
"It's so good to see organizations like Veterans' Outreach out there, because I know there are so many veterans who come home and end up getting displaced, whether it's psychological issues from the war or disabilities," Fiata said.
"And these guys are there to help - and they're very sincere about it. I was very touched by it. It's going to make a huge difference in my life, and I'm very grateful to them."
For more information about Veterans' Outreach, or to send a donation, call the Sarasota office at 941-755-1305, or visit the group online at www.veteransoutreach.com. For more information about the Volunteers of America, go to www.voa.org.
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