The National Anthem, presenting of colors, and candles lit for the 44 local service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The Stars and Stripes Celebration is the Veterans Outreach Center's biggest fundraiser. The VOC supports veterans so they can resume productive lives, "to help our veterans find employment find financial aid as well, and we help them find their way back home," said Gary Yaple, the President and CEO of the Veterans Outreach Center.
The VOC relies on the community for donations of time and treasure, "everything we do is together with the community and there's not too many organizations around the nation that can say that," explained Yaple.
The VOC's success has caught the attention of Washington. Rosye Cloud is the White House Director of Policy for Veterans, Wounded Warriors, and Military Families. Her message Thursday night was that what's going on in Rochester for veterans needs to be replicated all over the country, "we've seen wonderful work across the nation but it certainly stands out," explained Cloud, "simply because of its great connection to federal programs and across the community."
Eighty percent of the VOC budget comes from federal funding, which can change at any time, "we lost a $400,000 federal grant and I see that as telling for the times to come," said Yaple, "and it's time to change the fiscal future for the VOC."
Cloud says she likes what she sees on Rochester and will spread the word across the country.
"We have a keen eye and a rigor to look at opportunities where people are performing where veterans are being serviced where there's quality that's happening and those individuals naturally rise to the top," she said.
Next year is the Veterans Outreach Center's 40th anniversary. Activities will be held all year long in celebration of that milestone.