I learned about an organization tonight, New Directions. What’s so amazing is that it came from watching a talent show. I love watching shows that highlight specialized abilities, whether singing, dancing, emoting, thinking, you name it.
Well, New Directions Choir performed tonight on America’s Got Talent, their director & New Directions graduate, George Hill, relaying their mission: “Through singing, we hope to let other vets who are still out there know there is another way.” The New Directions Choir consists of current and former residents of New Directions. Homeless for 10 years, living in and around MacArthur Park, George is now majoring in computer science at Santa Monica College.
They were quite inspiring and I hope to add a video of that performance soon. But, here’s a short documentary about the choir.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Los Angeles has the largest population of homeless military veterans in the nation. An estimated 20,000 veterans live on the streets of L.A. — eleven percent (11%) of all homeless veterans nationwide. Many of these men and women suffer from co-occurring disorders, including substance abuse, mental illness and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as chronic medical problems.
Since 1992, New Directions has provided comprehensive services to thousands of veterans in Los Angeles County. More than 800 men and women seek outpatient services from the agency each year, and 225 veterans receive round-the-clock care at five different residential treatment centers. Also, currently in development is a 147-unit supportive housing facility for homeless and disabled veterans.
New Directions offers a wide array of services, including substance abuse treatment, job training and placement, parenting and money management classes, legal and financial assistance, counseling, remedial education and resources for alumni. Clients leave New Directions with a job, housing, a savings account, computer skills, renewed self confidence and the support of mentors and peers. Such a transformation takes hard work, motivation and accountability, but the results are life-altering — and for many veterans, life-saving.