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Local nonprofit expands to help more homeless veterans

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ELLENSBURG, Wash. -- Nearly 50 percent of the homeless in the U.S. are veterans. And in many states, including Washington, there aren't enough services to help them.

But now a nonprofit in Ellensburg has expanded to support more homeless veterans.

After four years in the Marines Corp, Michael Porter knows firsthand the hardship of battle, and, coming home - because for many veterans, there may not be a place to come home to.

"I went through a lot of the struggles that the vets I'm helping are going through," said Porter. "A lot of the struggles end up leading to broken families, and poverty and homelessness."

But at Hopesource, Porter is part of a team of six case managers helping veterans get back on their feet by offering resources in several areas.

"A lot of them come back troubled," said case manager Jennifer Semanko. "They're dealing with some physical disabilities; some PTSD. We really try to give them that wraparound community support to help them become stable."

Stable with housing, employment, financial planning, even childcare and car repair.

"We recognized there was a whole void in the whole central Washington region," said Hopesource Chief Operating Officer John Raymond. "We can bring all those providers together to provide training and access to education so we can better serve the low-income veteran population we're working with. "

And a 2014 federal grant of $800,000 a year has allowed Hopesource to expand. The nonprofit was able to acquire another wing in its building, and with the grant money those renovations wrapped up just last week.

"Senator Patty Murray helped endorse us for that grant," said Raymond. "Those dollars serve all the veterans in the six-county area: Kittitas, Grant, Adams, Chelan, Douglas, and Okanogan."

Helping almost 700 vets in the last two years, it's an honor for those like Semanko who's from a military background.

"It's important because these men and women have given their life to give us protection, and they served this county and a lot of them come back and have nothing," said Semanko.

Something this 'source of hope' wants to change.

"I think it would be a great thing not only for our own personal community, but for our state, our country.

If you or someone you know is a veteran in need, you can call (509) 925-1448 for more information.

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