Back in 2014 Pete Hestekin was volunteering at the Tomah Veterans Administration Medical Center unable to work his regular job while rehabbing a knee from a ski accident. He was not receiving VA services as he is not a Veteran although he is a search and rescue pilot in the Civil Air Patrol since 2002 which is the US Air Force auxiliary. He found out through the Volunteer newsletter that Veterans were being placed in HUD VASH Section 8 housing but were not being provided with even nominal household furnishings. Pete thought this was rather “silly”. So he approached his home church congregation in Eau Claire and asked if anyone had any furniture, kitchen wares or other furnishings they could donate to needy Veterans. He brought a pickup load down to Tomah and was asked if he could “do it again”!
In December of 2016 “Sofas for Service” became a nonprofit 501(c) (3) corporation. We serve Veterans with referrals from sources including:
- Tomah VAMC
- King Veteran’s Home in Waupaca
- Veteran’s Assistance Foundation
- Minnesota Action Council for Veterans
- County VA offices
- Center for Veterans Issues
- Porch Light
- Rock Valley Community Programs, Inc.
- Direct contact by Veterans themselves or their families.
Since its beginning in the winter of 2014, Pete, with help of many volunteers have served over 500 individual Veterans and Veteran families and have made several trips to the Tomah VAMC and to apartment complexes with truck and trailer loads of furniture and other home furnishings. “Sofas” has served Veterans and their families throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and South Dakota.
Because awareness has grown, and because an estimated 2000 of this country’s 40,000 homeless veterans live in Wisconsin, “Sofas for Service, Inc.” can no longer depend on the support of one individual. To meet the needs of our homeless veterans in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and elsewhere, we need the support of the community at large.
We have a constant need for funding as there are expenses associated with administering our program. While we have no payroll, we have insurance and monthly storage payments. Fuel expenses are a huge budget item as are beds . We need support for both our fuel and bedding expenses. We buy new mattresses and box springs for our Veterans who need them (we spent over $40,000 on new beds in 2022). We do not accept used mattresses. We recently purchased a custom built 16′ enclosed trailer and a pick up truck to pull it. Our volunteers no longer have to use their personal vehicles avoiding thousands of miles of wear and tear on them. However there are obvious maintenance costs with the acquisition of these assets.
To reach as many Veterans as possible we need to grow “Sofas”. We will need public support to accomplish this. Our continuous needs are office supplies and equipment, telephones, marketing (including electronic media) and personnel. We need volunteers to help with office management, accounting, inventory, and muscle power to help move furniture.
Recently, “Sofas” served a Veteran, and his 6 year old son, with needed furnishings. This Veteran and his son were living in an apartment furnished with only a small kitchen table with 1 camp stool. They were sharing a bed. The living room furniture consisted of some cushions from a sofa; not the sofa, just cushions, and a video game for the child. “Sofas for Service” provided a new mattress, box spring and frame for the child, 2 chests of drawers, a reclining love seat and an end table for the living room, 4 wooden chairs for the kitchen table, a cart for a microwave oven, and some kitchen wares including flatware, cookware and miscellaneous kitchen gadgets. The Veteran thought we had brought too much for his use and asked that we take a few items back and give them to “the next Veteran”! These are the kind of serving “Heroes” that our veterans are! How can we not give back to those who have given so much and risked even more?
- WE ACCEPT MOST HOUSEHOLD FURNISHINGS IN GOOD TO LIKE NEW OR NEW CONDITION. THESE INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO:
- LIVING ROOM AND BEDROOM FURNITURE SUCH AS END TABLES AND NIGHT STANDS AND DRESSERS (TALL DRESSERS ARE PREFERED OVER LONG; MATTRESSES AND BOX SPRINGS ARE NOT ACCEPTED), SOFAS AND LOVE SEATS, RECLINERS,ETC.
- KITCHENWARES, SMALL KITCHEN APPLIANCES, FLATWARE, AND DISH/SERVICEWARE.
- VACUUM CLEANERS.
- FANS, LAMPS, CLOCKS, RADIO ALARM CLOCKS
- LARGE APPLIANCES ARE NOT ACCEPTED.
- MONETARY DONATIONS ARE CONSTANTLY NEEDED
Hello my dear friends … I have to tell you, you have really made a huge difference in my life! I had been homeless for over 5 years until just last month. Unfortunately NONE of my veteran resources came through. In the end it was my girlfriend’s SSD that made the difference. I was registered with the Homeless Veterans Registry for the whole 5 years. I got a call a couple years ago from them, asking if I would be interested in donating to help… I told them I AM a Homeless Veteran… I could use a happy meal and a cup of coffee … any chance of that? They hung up on me … never heard from them again. I became very convinced that everything called HELP FOR VETERANS was lies, false hopes, and empty promises. I gave up! Decided to give up on everything and everyone. When I was referred to you I didn’t think it would actually amount to anything. Alot of “help” these days is directly limited to post 9/11 veterans… us old vets are becoming more and more invisible. I was so amazed at what you brought to the table! You really brought a HUGE POSITIVE change to my life! I don’t have any way to thank you except with words … Please, accept my dearest and deepest thanks!!! YOU are MY Heroes!!!! Thank you so very much !!!!