Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.
Below is an interview with Rev. Dr. Helen Fleming, who leads the Women’s Veterans Resource Center. Rev. Dr. Fleming is pastor of the Douglas Memorial United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C., a post she has served in since 2005.
Question 1: Tell us about the Women’s Veterans Resource Center. What is your mission and main focus?
The Women’s Veterans Resource Center was created in 2010 following a speaking engagement for the Women’s Rock Rally. I learned about the injustice that was happening in the military around women’s issues and I became concerned about women veterans who were homeless. I also realized that many churches did not have a veterans program for women. As a result of these realities, I created the Women’s Veterans Resource Center, which offers a variety of resources in 11 different churches. Our mission is to be the support to military and veteran women who need benefits, jobs, mental health care, clothing, food, counseling, housing and spiritual guidance. Our main focus is to keep the doors open to these vets and to be there as a refuge in their hopelessness whenever we are needed.
Question 2: How are you partnering with other groups in the community to expand economic opportunity?
We collaborate with every level of government Veterans Affairs offices, non- profit organizations, the business community and service organizations to host events that supply services and supplies to our veteran women. Each quarter, we hold events such as benefit conferences, job development sessions and job fairs and clergy training sessions on how to treat our veterans. We also provide the clothing for the Women’s Rock Rally on Veterans Day at the ARC Center. Some of the churches are offering their parsonages in order to develop housing for our homeless. Emory UMC is digging ground on a large facility that will offer housing to the homeless veterans and others in need of housing. We’ve also held workshops on interview techniques, social media, business development and social etiquette classes in order to build self-esteem and confidence. All of our events are joint efforts with entities ranging from the White House to the Federal Women Veterans Affairs Office, the Department of Labor Veterans Affairs Office, the Mayors Veterans Affairs Office, Veterans Hospitals and other veterans agencies.
Question 3: If people want to learn more about the Women’s Veterans Resource Center, what should they do?
Contact Douglas Memorial UMC at 202-397-1562 and we will respond in a positive manner.