Heidi Gage will never forget the man named George.
A former homeless veteran, George worked as a volunteer coordinator for the Baltimore Station, a residential treatment program that serves homeless veterans wrestling with substance abuse. Before that, he was a resident at the organization, which helped him kick his addiction and find a permanent home.
George died last summer. But the impression he made on Gage, a Movement branch manager in Baltimore, lasts.
“To see someone take himself from addiction and homelessness to helping in the administration arena of the same nonprofit that saved his life, that was pretty cool,” says Gage, whose brother died of a drug overdose nine years ago. “I just want people to know you don’t have to die of an overdose. There is an option.”
For 350 homeless veterans each year, the Baltimore Station is the option. The 28-year-old organization is the latest winner of the Movement 10k giveaway, an ongoing campaign to gift $10,000 to nonprofits and charities significant to Movement employees. To nominate the organizations they love, employees submit a one-minute video explaining how the group brings life, light and hope to people in need. A committee then selects a winner each month.
Movement’s 10k initiative has invested $190,000 in nonprofits that help the homeless, abuse victims and children with autism or rare brain diseases.
Gage and Movement Loan Officer Jeanne Woodward presented the Baltimore Station with a $10,000 check on Giving Tuesday, the global push urging people to donate to nonprofits and charities on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. The grant will help the nonprofit buy a new van to transport its residents to community activities, medical appointments and school, says Kim Callari, the group’s development and communications director.
“We’ve been in the community for a long time,” Callari says. “We’ve got a good program that works.”
How it works
Baltimore Station isn’t a shelter in the traditional sense. But its clients do live there.
The organization, housed inside an old fire station, gives vets two years to graduate from an intensive substance abuse treatment program. In that time, they get food, clothing, counseling and job skills training. The aim is to help them find jobs and permanent housing once they graduate.
“A lot of our men are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues,” Callari says. “They’ll come back and assimilate back into the community. In seven years, they start having reactions. They start having dreams. They start self-medicating. That’s when the downward spiral begins.”
The group operates two facilities in Baltimore, row homes for men preparing to graduate and an overflow shelter that takes in civilians with nowhere to sleep, eat or shower.
It also works with local businesses to help successful clients find jobs. As for those who don’t succeed, “we don’t put them back on the street,” Callari says.
“They can come back. We realize recovery isn’t easy,” she says. “Sometimes, it takes multiple times for someone to get back on their feet.”
The donation comes just in time for the organization, which holds a big fundraiser every Giving Tuesday with hopes of raising $10,000 in a single day. Thanks to Movement, it succeeded.
“We were all visibly moved by the generosity,” Callari says. “Because of this donation, we’re now able to get a new van. It was just a really great day.”