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Vitality Veterans Housing receives $5,500 from Eye Care Professionals and Barracuda Championship

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Vitality Veterans Housing donation

Barracuda Championship Tournament Director Chris Hoff, left, and Dr. Matthew Mills, right, present a $5,500 check to Heather Harzke, program director for Vitality Veterans Housing Program.

RENO – Vitality Veterans Housing Program-GPD received an early Christmas present this year when Eye Care Professionals and Barracuda Championship presented the organization with a $5,500 donation on Dec. 20.

Dr. Matthew Mills of Eye Care Professionals said he selected the charity that helps veterans for the Barracuda Championship’s Birdies for the Brave.

“We all know that there are veterans in the community that struggle and need support. … I looked into this group called Vitality Unlimited, and the work that they do here in Reno, in Carson City and in Elko and perhaps other cities as well,” Mills said. “I thought this was a great opportunity to provide support for them and the work that they do.”

The Barracuda Championship is a regular stop on the PGA Tour and for 23 years the tournament has provided $4.6 million to charities.

“This is the perfect example of the partnerships that we’re trying to create here in the community,” said Barracuda Championship Tournament Director Chris Hoff. “Dr. Mills has been a great supporter of ours through the years and coming up with unique ways of not only giving back but partnering with the tournament. These are what we are trying to do each and every year. We can’t thank Dr. Mills enough for everything he has done for us, and hopefully going forward we can really build on this.”

Vitality’s program works with the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System, Healthcare for Homeless Veterans, to provide transitional housing to homeless veterans along with other services that assist them to move into independent housing.

Heather Harzke, program director for Vitality Veterans Housing Program, said the veterans can range in age from 18 to almost 100. The facility recently helped a 98-year-old World War II veteran. Vitality’s housing is a grant per diem program, which means the VA provides funds for basic operation of the program, but it doesn’t pay for the extras, such as clothing for the veterans and other luxuries such as dishes and beds when they move into their own homes.

“Having any kind of contribution helps us be able to provide better care for them so that we can help them with housing, help them with employment or just being able to get them supplies,” Harzke said.

The Vitality Veterans Housing Program is typically a three- to nine-month program but sometimes the VA will allow for an extension depending on the circumstances of the individual.

“We’re not going to kick somebody out on the street just because they had to wait to get documentation,” Harzke said.

The goal of the program is to prepare the veterans and provide them with the correct tools that they need so when they find sustainable housing they don’t relapse back into homelessness, Harzke said

“We definitely have made a family community, so this donation significantly helps us to be able to provide services for our veterans,” she said.

Mills said he was thrilled to present the check to Vitality Veterans Housing.

“I’m hoping that we’re planting a seed here with Birdies for the Brave that could grow over time and have a greater impact as the years go by,” said Mills.

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