Riverhead veterans nonprofit in competition to win $25,000

COURTESY PHOTO | Suffolk County United Veterans operates permanent supportive housing like this house for veterans in need.

A Riverhead-based nonprofit organization that helps homeless and needy veterans is one of four organizations from across the country competing to win $25,000 in gift cards through the Home Depot Foundation.

Suffolk County United Veterans, which has its main office on Roanoke Avenue, was chosen to participate in the “Aprons in Action” contest, where Facebook users can vote on which nonprofit should win the funding. The organization is in second place in the competition, which runs to the end of December.

“We provide housing and supportive services for homeless veterans and veterans who are in need,” said SCUV director of operations Wilkens Young.

The group runs a facility in Yaphank to provide housing and support services for veterans, as well as permanent housing for veterans in East Patchogue, Bellport, Mastic, Yaphank and Middle Island.

SCUV run mental health, employment, substance abuse, and vocational training services for veterans who are in need of support, Mr. Young said. Full-time employees also help sign veterans up for financial benefits like Social Security or medical treatment from Veterans Affairs centers.

Mr. Young, who has worked at Suffolk County United Veterans for the past 10 years, was a participant in the program himself.

“It basically turned my life around,” Mr. Young said. “It provided me with the support to do the things with my life that I wanted to do.”

With help from the nonprofit, Mr. Young received an education as an alcohol and substance abuse counselor. He has been working with Suffolk County United Veterans ever since.

If the group wins the competition, Mr. Young said the money will go toward making one of the organization’s housing handicapped-accessible to assist a handicapped veteran who lives there. The nonprofit would also be entered into the next step of the competition as a finalist and could win an additional $250,000.

Facebook users can vote for SCUV on the competition’s page once per day.

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