Kalemon is a 4th year Marine Corps JROTC Cadet. Over the summer he was searching for a worthwhile project to complete for his Senior Project. He wanted to do a project that would help our veterans in some way.
He contacted a close Mentor of his 1st Sergeant Carl Curtis, a retired United States Marine and District Commander for the Pennsylvania American Legion.
Commander Curtis told Kalemon about the Housing for Homeless Veterans Corporation and what the program does to help Veterans. The program has homes in four locations across the state that provides temporary housing for our veterans in need. This program immediately got Kalemon’s attention since it is a program designed to have an immediate impact on veterans in need.
Kalemon recruited a fellow JROTC cadet, Senior Austin Brutout (Blackhawk, High School), who also wanted to help out veterans, to help with this project. With the guidance of Commander Curtis, who agreed to be their Mentor for the project, they got to work.
First, they researched the information about the program, such as the contact number, general location of the current homes, and what the program was designed to do. Then they drafted a letter to be used if people had questions about what they were doing and who they were raising money for.
The strategy was to contact local businesses and event coordinators to get permission to attend their events, such as fairs and truck shows. They went to various communities to communicate and fundraise for the program. At the various locations they would set up a table, wear their JROTC uniforms and decorated their containers with patriotic memorabilia in order to attract the attention of people.
Kalemon said, “The project was not only rewarding but very educational. We met many veterans who shared with us their service stories. A couple of them even told us stories of how the Housing for Homeless Veterans program helped a friend of theirs.”
The boys also went out to busy intersections and collected money from cars as they were stopped at red lights. In total, with the limited time they had to do their project, they were able to raise $1,518.
Kalemon also mentions how rewarding it was to have the opportunity to attend the Housing for Homeless Veterans dinner which was held at the Pittsburgh Doubletree Hotel in Moon Township, PA on January 21st. This opportunity that Commander Curtis brought to the boys allowed them to meet and get their picture taken with Past National Commander Ron Conly when they handed their donation over to the program. Pictured is Joseph Kalemon; Ron Conley, President of Housing for Homeless Veterans Corp; John West, former resident of the Coraopolis home; and Timothy Frank.
Kalemon and Brutout were honored to work on this project; knowing their efforts was worthwhile and they had the opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life.
Brutout was not able to attend the dinner due to another commitment. Fellow Cadet Timothy Frank attended the dinner with Kalemon.
Kalemon and Brutout are both graduating and have both enlisted in the United States Marine Corps as a result of the impact that Commander Curtis has made on them.
Kalemon said, “It is our hope that our efforts will be continued by others. As such, we have recruited Timothy Frank (Quaker Valley High School) and Lauryn Powell (Central Valley High School) who are both current High School Juniors to carry on with this project. Our hope is that this project idea will be passed on to new seniors every year and that the amount of money raised will increase with each year as each cadet adds to the success of the cadets before him.
We would like to thank the American Legion for the efforts put forth in order to enhance the lives of our veterans and to make a difference so that one day, with the love of God and the power of many, there will be no need for a Housing for Homeless Veterans program.”