Rotary District 7510 Supports Homeless Veteran Outreach
“Being homeless hurts, OPERATION CHILLOUT helps” is the motto of an all-volunteer coalition founded in the year 2000 to help a band of homeless Viet Nam Era Veterans living under a railroad trestle in Northern New Jersey. Since it began OPERATION CHILLOUT has collected and delivered more a million dollars worth of survival supplies to homeless veterans, men and women living on the streets in 14 NJ counties and parts of Eastern, PA, and Rockland County, NY. “Their mission fits perfectly with ours”, said Tulsi Maharjan, District Director-Elect. “Rotary stands for service above self, CHILLOUT serves the most needy among us. They reach out, respond, rehabilitate and return homeless military veterans to healthy productive lives. We will be supporting them in all their outreach campaigns this year.”
This summer, Rotary and CHILLOUT will collect and deliver cases of bottled water, new tee-shirts and baseball caps to homeless people living on the street now through Labor Day. “Last year we delivered 26,000 bottles of water to our brothers and sisters living on the hot streets”, said Ray Chimileski CHILLOUT founder and Executive Director of the 501c3 organization. “We have saved many lives from exposure and dehydration for the price of a $4.00 case of water.” District Director Maharjan continued, “anyone interested in donating or collecting cases of water, new tee shirts and ball caps can contact any of our Rotary Clubs.”
New Jersey estimates there are 7,500 veterans who are homeless. CHILLOUT seeks out these military veterans, many of whom have PTSD or chronic illnesses of body, mind and spirit. Veterans are among the highest percentage of the homeless of any single group. CHILLOUT’s Rapid Response Outreach Team arranges emergency transportation for medical care and provides winter and summer survival gear. They also are homeless veteran advocates and prepare and serve monthly home cooked meals for the PTSD Unit at Lyons, VA hospital.
In the winter from December through March, CHILLOUT prepares a backpack or duffle bag for a man or woman filled with new warm clothing, toiletries, survival gear, sleeping bags and information about local resources. They are delivered free to locations where homeless people gather like food pantries, soup kitchens, temporary shelters and places where many veterans sleep in the open, in abandoned buildings, parks and alleyways. “We truly welcome Rotary District 7510’s partnership and support this year ”, Chimileski said.