By Alyx Chandler
Family Endeavors, a non-profit organization aiming to help struggling or homeless veterans in the Alabama area,
recently opened their arms and office in Northport last October after given a grant from the Affordable Care Act with
the goal to achieve the President’s campaign to end homelessness by 2015.
“It was like a blessing from heaven, when you pray and pray and something else comes along you never would have
thought possible,” Mary Brown, a new client for Family Endeavors, said.
The grant was provided to service at least 1400 veterans in a year. It focuses on housing first, and then provides aid with
credit issues, educational counseling and stabilizing low income veterans or families of veterans. They also strive to
alleviate job stressors. Family Endeavors now has offices located throughout Alabama at Birmingham, Montgomery and
“We want to be that bridge working very closely to make it across into the veterans department,” Rachel Braswell,
Lead Outreach and Intake Specialist, said.
Braswell, who specialized in non-profit businesses at the University of Alabama, said this job has been an amazing
opportunity for her to do what she always dreamed of doing: helping people around Tuscaloosa. She said even after a few
months of being in business, a lot of veterans in the Alabama community still don’t know that help is available for them if
Family Endeavors has been operating as a national non-profit organization since the 60s. They expanded their case
management and financial outreach to include Alabama, Florida and North Carolina. Serving clients from the age of
21 all the way to the age of 90, Family Endeavors counts any type of military involvement as veteran work. They are
currently working to advertise their program and seek out people in need.
The ultimate goal of Family Endeavors is to help out veterans that might have gone through a rough spot, or had
trouble getting back on their feet.
“Sometimes they don’t understand what’s going on, it’s not clear what benefits they get,” Braswell said. “Some have PTSD
when they come back to a normal environment.”
Braswell said they have never heard any of the veterans speak negatively about their military experience. The only
confusion comes from veterans being unclear about what exactly their benefits are once they finish serving.
“Plenty of times it’s like running up against a roadblock; with them it’s like a way to get through with the obstructions
moving out of the way,” Brown said.
Mary Brown joined the National Guard in ’78 and retired in 2001. She trained in Germany for six weeks and in the U.S. for the
rest of the time. She never saw any war time and was considered a “weekend solder,” which, according to the U.S.,
technically does not consider her a veteran. Due to medical conditions, Brown was not able to serve the next three years to
secure benefits.
“Even after everything, I would do it again. I still would’ve served—I just wish I’d signed up for the three years,” Brown
Family Endeavors has a process for veterans to be eligible to receive help. The referral and intake process requires a
basic screening that requires the person to be either a veteran or have one living in their household. They also have
to be below the 50% of median income and cannot have anything lower than honorable discharge. After that, a case
manager will get assigned to keep up with the client, develop goals and strategize how to achieve them. If in 90 days
they are not accepted as a case, Family Endeavors sends them out to a community and tries to get other programs to
assist them.
“Certain people think they need help that day,” Vetrica Hill, the lead case manager for Family Endeavors, said.
She explains that everyone must comply with the process. Even after some of the homeless people are accepted for
help from Family Endeavors, the intake department often has problems contacting them again since they don’t
always have a permanent place of residence or a phone. Other people on the streets are people who are content with
their current lifestyle and don’t want any help. Family Endeavors helps only the people who request it.
“Despite the situation and regrets they make in their lives, Family Endeavors is happy to assist,” Hill said.
Family Endeavors went through the same process in December with Brown, and deemed her eligible for financial help with her rent.
They also helped her develop a long term plan about how to help herself in the future.
Brown said, without elaborating, she has plenty of regrets in her life and that a lot of things happened out of her
control. Brown also said she was very, very thankful and emotional, and still cannot believe she is getting help.
“The day I called and said I was going to help [Mary] pay rent, she broke down crying because it was so important to her,” Hill
At the Family Endeavors monthly staff meeting in December, they decided to take the problem of homelessness into
their own hands and set out to explore the streets of Birmingham one day. In groups of three, they made their way to
different sections of Birmingham. They searched for veterans in need under bridges, in laundromats, parks, barber
shops and other public areas. The police officers of the area aided by giving them rides to some of the more obscure
places homeless people congregated.
“I love my job and what I do—it makes all the difference in the world to some people,” Braswell said. “I’m thankful to

help someone sleep better.” Braswell said military pride sometimes makes it hard for people to ask for or accept help, so Family Endeavors strives
to show people they truly care by seeking them out in the community, Braswell said they don’t always feel as apprehensive.
“We receive a lot of open armed responses,” Hills said. “We are in a team and we’re here to serve.”
Community partnerships are one of the most important goals for Family Endeavors as they continue to get their new
non-profit business started. With the combined help of other non-profits in the community, Family Endeavors is able to
point those people they cannot help in the right direction.
Family Endeavors plans to do similar missions at other places in Alabama. They hope for their numbers to grow and
encourage people to volunteer or seek necessary help for veterans or family member.
Please visit for more information.

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