Program helps local veterans in need

By on August 21, 2017
Michael Cook was the 100th Veteran served by the program. Provided photo

Michael Cook was the 100th Veteran served by the program. Provided photo

Members of Patriot Guard Riders of New York, Inc., (PGRNY) have become a familiar site standing in flag lines at funerals and dignified transfers (at the family’s request) in honor and respect of service members, veterans, and their families, as well as for the state’s first responders who have been killed in the line of duty, but PGRNY has also developed a very active Help on the Homefront (HOTH) Veteran’s Assistance program.

Donna Barnes, website and communications operations director for PGRNY says HOTH is a volunteer outreach program which provides assistance to veterans in crisis, experiencing a particular hardship, or who have unmet needs due to a service-related disability.

“This assistance is also available to Gold Star and Blue Star families who are experiencing hardships due to the loss or deployment of their loved one,” Barnes says.

All cases are reviewed individually and are based on merit, PGRNY says.

Through the process of providing Help on the Homefront assistance, Barnes explains that PGRNY volunteers in the Rochester area realized that all some veterans needed for a fresh start was furniture for a new place of residence.

“Unfortunately, most of those veterans did not qualify for assistance through the HOTH program as their hardship was not the result of a service-related disability,” Barnes says.

PGRNY volunteers decided to address this need and secured a warehouse and the use of moving trucks. They asked the community for donations of gently-used furniture and began delivering it to veterans in need.

The HOTH-ROC Warehouse became a program of PGRNY HOTH in November of 2015 and is only available in the Rochester area at this time.

“The ROC-HOTH Warehouse program is growing by leaps and bounds,” Barnes says. “On July 8, 2017, the ROC Warehouse team delivered furniture to Michael Cook – the 100th Veteran served since the program was formalized.

PGRNY explains that veterans in need of furniture fill out a request form and supply information necessary for the vetting process.  If they qualify, veterans come to the warehouse to select furniture. They can take it home or have it delivered.  Agencies in the Rochester area are available to assist veterans in filling out the forms and in visiting the warehouse.

K. Gabalski photo

K. Gabalski photo

Donations are welcome and community members wishing to donate their gently-used furniture can schedule a time to deliver it directly to the warehouse or have it picked up.  Donation pickup request forms are available on the PGRNY website ( or by calling 585-866-1PGR (585-866-1747).

Barnes says more information is available on the website regarding donations and the types of furniture currently being accepted.  Recent items of need include couches, chairs, chests of drawers, end tables, small TVs (less than 5 years old, digital), small TV stands, recliners, bed frames (no mattresses or box springs), pots and pans.  Additional guidelines regarding donations are available on the website.

“At this time, we are only able to pick up and deliver furniture once a month, specifically the second Saturday of the month,” she says.

New volunteers and members are always welcome, PGRNY says. “You are encouraged to visit our website and consider joining us in standing for and assisting those who stood for us,” Barnes says.