North Central News

Local veterans serve needs of at-risk youth

In honor of Veteran’s Day, dozens of local veterans and some of their family members reported for duty on Nov. 7 to assemble more than 110 new bikes for disadvantaged and at-risk youth in Tumbleweed’s Young Adult programs.

Assembling a bike to donate to Tumbleweed’s Young Adult program are members of The Mission Continues 2nd Platoon Phoenix, from left: Ken Arneson, Robert Kestle and Michelle Ray (photo courtesy of The Mission Continues).

Assembling a bike to donate to Tumbleweed’s Young Adult program are members of The Mission Continues 2nd Platoon Phoenix, from left: Ken Arneson, Robert Kestle and Michelle Ray (photo courtesy of The Mission Continues).

The volunteer veterans were from The Mission Continues Phoenix Service Platoon, a team of more than 200 local veterans dedicated to continued service through civic engagement. Most of the veterans participating in the project were from the 2nd Platoon Phoenix.

“As a veteran whose career was cut short, it felt really good to address the needs of our local homeless youth with my 2nd Platoon comrades,” said JP Villont, Marine Corps Veteran OIF I. “I strive to give back to the community that supports us and continue that mission of helping others.”

Tumbleweed is a nonprofit organization that has been serving Arizona’s homeless and vulnerable youth for more than 40 years. The youth, 15-17 years old, often are fleeing trauma such as abusive home situations, desertion, family disintegration and poverty. The donated bikes are not only for recreation, but many also are for transportation to school and work.

Volunteers also gave the living quarters of a Tumbleweed housing facility near 23rd Avenue and Camelback Road a much-needed facelift, complete with new bedding, artwork and furnishings to brighten their lives.

“For me it was a very fulfilling feeling to put my time and effort to helping youth in need,” said Dan Schrader, US Army Veteran OIF 07-08. “The Mission Continues 2nd Platoon has given back the camaraderie and spirit of service that I lost since leaving the military. It’s a win-win.”

The Mission Continues is a national nonprofit organization that empowers veterans to serve their country in new ways through action-oriented programs. The organization has helped thousands of post-9/11 veterans focus their talents and energy to tackle challenges here at home. Through a unique model that provides reciprocal benefit for the veteran and the local community, veterans volunteer to help others and, through their service, build new skills that help them launch their civilian career. To learn more, visit: www.missioncontinues.org.

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