Author Archive

Latest Update: Expansions, Board Update

Written by Ken on . Posted in Uncategorized

We have been sooooo busy housing Veterans and planning for 2014, we have had little time to post.  Below is the update that just went out to our Houston Area of Operation, as well as one that went to all of our registered VA social workers.  Here is the latest!

Hey All,

5 more housed this week, two in Dallas!!!! Way to go people!  They were astounded that we really do move to help the veterans as fast as we say we do.

Overall, to date we have raised $180k for Veterans Matter, $70k of that has come from you guys, and you have now housed 94 veterans in Texas! How cool is that!

Just today we got a commitment for $5000 for Seattle so we will be opening the operation there immediately.  We are now targeting Nashville (courtesy of Kix Brooks), San Diego, and Detroit.  We got a call from Detroit this week begging for our help. It was so moving, lit my ass on fire. We are setting up a couple meetings there next week.  If you all know someone we should talk to in Detroit, let Gary know asap.

Which is a great segue to….

In the Board news, we are thrilled Gary Fruchtman has agreed to join the 1Matters Board of Directors.  His love, passion and commitment, and support is such a blessing to the organization, as it has been to me personally the past twenty years. At our year end meeting last month the Board voted to go all out to house as many veterans as we can this year.  We really would like to help at least 1000 veterans this year.  To that end we are formalizing our existing structure and the model we learned from your work, and then successfully replicated in Indiana. Following Dusty’s example, other compassionate artists are helping to raise the awareness, and Gary, assuming the position of National Funding Chairman for Veterans Matter, will engage the business community in those targeted areas.  Gary will be looking to engage Regional Funding Coordinators who can gather friends to raise $25K – $50k. (think Kevin) and Funding Coordinators who raise $5000 to $25,000.  (Think the rest of you cool kids.)  Bragging him up, once John M. signed on in Indy, the person Gary engaged in Indiana raised $38k in eleven hours.

We will need to hire a Project Coordinator who will work directly with the VASH social workers to facilitate the referrals, problem resolution, and identify other assets that could help the veterans. (i.e. Sheri’s program, gift cards, etc.)  Also, to facilitate implementation in the VASH programs nationwide, Shawn Dowling with the VA here, who helped start this thing in the first place, is setting up a conference call with the national VA VASH leaders.  If that goes well she feels they will help us fast track implementation in all future targeted areas of operation if the information/introduction comes from “upstairs.”

That’s enough for now.  A lot going on, which means not a lot of time to tell everyone.  We are integrating all facets of the program into one software package which will allow the us to regularly disseminate more information.

All this is great stuff, but what really counts is the 94 heads who are sleeping on 94 beds in 94 Houston homes, JUST because you decided “Houston Takes Care of Our Own.”

Thank you all!


Ps.     Below is the update we sent to all of our registered VASH managers, got great feedback from it.   We will be sending them all a survey next to identify any other ways we can serve them, or the veterans they serve, better.

Hi there Susanna,

We are sending this to all of our registered VASH managers and social workers because we would like to keep you up to date on all of the amazing stuff going on here at Veterans Matter. We have been so busy housing veterans with you that we have had no time to send an update!

We have 42 registered VASH staff in Texas, 11 out of Ann Arbor, and three in New England we are working with. We have now housed 170 veterans in 32 cities in 4 states: Ohio, Michigan, Texas and Massachusetts. We are currently expanding to Indiana, and working on securing the funds for San Diego and Detroit.

We are getting big enough that we are hiring a Program Coordinator (PC) to help us, help you.  This will mean you will get very regular updates on the progress of your peers, the program, and ways we have found to get our veterans housed faster.

The Houston Funding Coordinators decided to expand from Houston alone to all of Texas. Dallas has already housed TWO veterans there this year.

Check this out, the same day we opened up fundraising for Operation Indiana we had the program fully funded at $38,000. It took 11 hours!  We are now working to engage the Indiana social workers.

We asked the VASH managers and social workers how they use Veterans Matter and they say: 1) To preserve SSVF money for already housed veterans.  2)  Because lease up funds for homeless veterans are in short supply in their area. 3) They need to house the veteran fast and don’t want to wait for other programs (which could take longer), require the veteran to get another case manager, housing plan, etc. We are glad to serve you all no matter what reason.    And if you think of a way we can serve you better, let us know.  WE SEEK YOUR ADVICE!  If you think of a way we can help you even better, we want to hear it.  Our goal is just to help you, help our veterans.

If you thought you heard about Veterans Matter on the radio, you did.  Cumulus Broadcasting ran our Dusty Hill, John Mellencamp, and Kix Brooks (Brooks and Dunn) PSA’s nationally November 1 – 11.

Our goal this year simply to house as many veterans as we can, as fast as we can.  We hope to help 1000 veterans nationwide.

AND, we want to say great work to you all in reducing the number of unhoused veterans to 57,849. We know you worked your tails off to make that happen.  YOU are the heroes in this story.  We look forward to the honor of serving you. Thank you for the amazing 2013. 2014 looks very promising.

Meet Some of Those You Have Helped

Written by Ken on . Posted in Uncategorized

Stories of those YOU have helped this year.

Happy New Year!

What an incredible year of service and advocacy for 1Matters, as well as our national Veterans Matter program.  Rather than recant the numbers, we instead share some of the stories your support has allowed us to be a part of. These are YOUR wins.

We have nothing but extreme gratitude for the hundreds of people, volunteers, donors, supporters, and guests who have touched our lives this year.

Locally, Lavette and Terrance are two who inspire every one of the 1Matters team to keep doing what we are doing.  Both are incredible stories of transformation.

First, for those who don’t know, the 1Matters team wears the black and yellow hoodies. To get one your selfless compassion must be noticed by another 1Matters team member who recommends you. Then five other team members need to concur as witness to the compassion before you join the 1Matters team and get your hoodie.

When we first met Lavette at Tent City she was a very angry, very high crack addict who had lost both of her legs at the hip. The first from a pimp who shot her in the leg, the second from………….

We removed Lavette from two Tent Cities because she was um, taking things, panhandling, and essentially bullying people. We strongly believe in redemption and view each year as fresh.  The third year we were about to remove her but instead, for some reason, eight or so of the 1Matters team surrounded her and told her how much we loved her, and when she wasn’t high being a bitch, how incredible of a person and joy she is to be around.  She broke down when, what we all knew to be the Holy Spirit, filled her with an immediate transformation.  Last year she earned her black hoodie, and this year she helped manage the donation tent all weekend.

Terrance is a similar story, but has the added bonus of reminding me of my failure when I judge people.  Terrance too was kicked out of two Tent Cities for stealing the things we had there to give him.  This year his work and effort all weekend earned him a black hoodie.

At the recognition dinner this month where we were going to welcome a record 12 to the 1Matters team, Terrance did not show up.  Nor did he show up for the next two Saturday Morning Picnics, so we concluded he had returned to the behaviors he had changed.

Well, this past weekend Terrance came down to the picnic. Turns out his father had passed away so he immediately went down to Mississippi to tend to matters there.  We did his hoodie ceremony right then, right there.

Then there are those like Jimmy, what I view as the “not yets.”  Jimmy has been a pal since April of 2008.  He has made incredible progress getting from there to here. This choked me up, earlier this year he asked me to be the best man in his wedding, wow.  But then his addictions which he has not kicked interfered with his plan, missing two dates he had set.  Not yet I guess. But we will never give up sharing our love, support, and hope for him.

Joe Markowski and Tom Haley are two of the 190 unhoused veterans we have now housed in 34 cities in 4 states. Both have gone from where they were, to where they are now, here.  After they were housed, both are now volunteering at all of our events because they want to give back.

Now let’s add Lawrence, Quinton, Linda, Sam, and all the other vendors at Toledo Streets.

Just now, writing this at the end of 2013 and thinking about each of these people, I just recognized the most powerful bond that cements us with each of them, what they have become, where they are now.  The one thing about each of them, is that when I think of them it makes me brim with love and joy, grinning from ear to ear.

Would you like to know what that single, universal thing is?

Their smiles, their beautiful, radiant smiles in a place they had none. Each of them. And it is not just a smile, no sir.  It is the true meaning of that smile that moves all of us on the 1Matters team who bear witness to the changes. In each incredible smile is their story of the journey from where they were, to where they are now. It is their story, their full journey conveyed in just that smile.

And as a volunteer, donor, supporter, or fan, you are a part of that smile.  YOU have allowed us to be there then, now, and in the future for all the “not yets.”  This is your smile too.  Please enjoy it, and carry it forward into all of 2014.  Thank you so much from all of us.


Quick Updates

  • At the annual 1Matters Board of Directors meeting last week we welcomed a new member, Gary Fruchtman, who has been a friend and supporter for 20 years.  Gary is one of the Managing Partners of Worldbridge Partners, global leaders in Executive Search. Gary’s primary interest is taking on the role as the National Funding Chairman for Veterans Matter.  Welcome Gary!
  • With Gary’s help Veterans Matter is already expanding to the rest of Texas, Indiana, where they raised $37k in eleven hours, and San Diego.  Our goal is to house 1000 veterans this year as fast as we can, one at a time.
  • This year will be the 25th year anniversary of our advocacy.  From the Homeless Awareness Project in 1990 to 1Matters today, we will have many stories to share throughout the year.

Happy New Year all.  We hope you have a prosperous and joyful year filled with smiles, from ear to ear.

Tent City Needs – Urgent – Gloves, Hats, Larger Sized Mens Coats

Written by Ken on . Posted in Uncategorized

Hi All, As many of you know, Tent City is this weekend. We have been working furiously sorting all of everyone’s generous clothing donations! We live in the most generous community I have ever witnessed!! However , we have a couple of gaps. We are very short on gloves, hats and scarves and as always coats particularly men’s coats in larger sizes. If you want to help you can take any of these items to LifeBridge on Monroe Street or bring them directly to the event this weekend. Thanks so much to everyone who has donated, helped sort or will be volunteering this weekend!! Toledo is the BEST!!

If you want to keep up with Tent City this weekend in REAL TIME, watch 1Matters Facebook Page located at this link.

Our hash tag for the weekend is #TentCityLove

“Home Again, Arent You Glad to Be Home Again?”

Written by Ken on . Posted in Uncategorized

The whole world could tell your sad
It just says so in your eyes
Sorry that you feel so bad
But I think you’ll be alright
You’ve got many friends here,
To be by your side
We’re all here to help you”

“Oh, oh, home again
Aren’t you glad to be home again?
Oh, oh, home again
You’re amongst friends,
Aren’t you glad to be home again?

These words are from “Home Again”, “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.”  a musical written by novelist Stephen King with music by rock musician John Mellencamp and production by T-Bone Burnett.  This week is starts a tour of the Midwest.

Since 1990 thousands of men, women and children have heard these words — “Your amongst friends, aren’t you glad to be home again?”  at our annual 1Tent City event. Each  year these words are being said by 350 volunteers, who are supported by thousands of area residents through donations of food, clothing, haircuts, id’s, and gifts of cash.   This is a festival of compassion.

We want to help more.  Join us.


“The whole world could tell your sad
It just says so in your eyes
Sorry that you feel so bad
But I think you’ll be alright
You’ve got many friends here,
To be by your side
We’re all here to help you

Oh, oh, home again
Aren’t you glad to be home again?
Oh, oh, home again
You’re amongst friends,
Aren’t you glad to be home again?

The world can make you weary and mean
Just take a look outside
Some will try to buy your dreams
And hide the truth with lies
Good fortune comes your way
Please don’t stand back and scream
It never wanted you here anyway

Oh, oh, home again
Aren’t you glad to be home again?
Oh, oh, home again
You’re amongst friends,
Aren’t you glad to be home again?

Why don’t you rest here a while?

Let your anxiety subside
Maybe walk around the town
You don’t have to speak,
If you got nothing left to say
And we’ll try to ease your ṗain
Tomorrow’s another day

Oh, oh, home again
Aren’t you glad to be home again?
Oh, oh, home again
You’re amongst friends,
Aren’t you glad to be home again?

Oh, oh, home again
Aren’t you glad to be home again?
Oh, oh, home again
Aren’t you glad to be home again?

We Can Turn It Around

Written by Ken on . Posted in Uncategorized

A couple years ago Amanda Moore wrote this wonderful piece, which Crystal recorded during the St. Paul’s shoot.




Tent City Weddings — Jimmmmmy

Written by Ken on . Posted in Uncategorized

For those who have been with us even a short time have heard the story about Jimmy.  I met him April 26th, 2008 at Food for Thought.  He was living in the river and kept asking why I was talking to him, no one had talked to him in a week.  Can you imagine being so shunned no one has talked to you in a week?

Having been there myself, he is the one I told to “Ball it up and be a man for once in your life.”  Turns out he did ball it up getting his own ID, and his own place.

Jimmy, Lisa his fiance, and Drew O'Donnell, head of our UT - Tent City leadership team.

Jimmy, Lisa his fiance, and Drew O’Donnell, head of our UT – Tent City leadership team.

We came to find out that April 26th, 2008, I messed up his plan for the day.  Jimmy had decided he was going to go back to the river that day and “slip away in the water,” and he was on that very mission when I met him.  To be honest, I might have thought of that too if no one had talked to us in a week.  He did not feel he mattered, to anyone.  Our simple attention and love for him let him know one really does matter!

I apologize.  Between launching Veterans Matter, expanding  Project Connect, helping Amanda with Toledo Streets, creating “Within”,  planning Tent City and the 1Mile Matters walk, and oh yah… My day job as a CEO of a small search firm,  I have had no time to personally blog and keep you guys up to date on Jimmy Darnell Graham.

Well, last September he came up and asked me a question that knocked the wind out of me: “Ken, this is Lisa, we have been dating a while, would you please be the best man in our wedding?”  Wow.

Well this October 26th, 2013, Saturday night at Tent City, Jimmy and Lisa will be getting married at Tent City.  I will be his best man.  Words will not suffice, here, or there.


WeddingS: . (“Two Weddings – One Location” )

No typo in the headline.  We will be having two weddings, and two receptions. (“Two Weddings – One Location” ), one of our leading Toledo Streets vendors, Quentin, and his lovely fiance Constance are also getting married.  Our Tent City team is helping to plan the details for both. but this much we know. For you single ladies out there, that is double bouquet action!  But thankfully, only one Chicken Dance.


1Mile Matters

With all that is going on, we are running a little (a lot) behind.  This years walk to kick off Tent City is led by veterans housed by our Veterans Matter program.   Registration is now open, we need your help in getting the word out.  Registration is $20.  For $25 you also get the awesome T-shirt.  Proceeds this year go to house even more veterans.

Our Veterans Matter pilot program has now housed 130 unhoused veterans in 25 cities in four states (56 of those so far here in the Toledo Area), and over $100,000 has been raised to house veterans, half of that by Dusty Hill of ZZ Top for Houston veterans.

Volunteer Slots 70% Full

Wow, tomorrow is a month out and we already have 70% of the volunteer slots filled. That is a record.  Want to volunteer, click right here. 

Housing Second

Written by Ken on . Posted in Uncategorized

tc 2011 sleepingIn so many communities we see people, including families with children, involuntarily living - and dying - in cars, encampments, tent cities, and boxes on sidewalks.

We do not see this here in Toledo.


Replacing the emotion of the current debate with logic and fact suggests the only reason we do not see people on the streets here is supply and demand. The supply of shelter beds has equaled the demand for those beds. (Except in the area of domestic violence, where there is a severe shortage.)

By annual physical count we precisely know both the supply and the demand. It is consistently about 1000 people; of which between 35% – 45% are families with children. Multiplied by the implied turnover rate of 2.8 times, about 2800 people per year lose housing and end up in the emergency and transitional shelters.

If you are new to the issue, emergency shelters are for crisis intervention and short term stabilization. They are the landing pads where YOUR children, relatives or friends, or even you will go when one loses housing due to fire, addiction, eviction, foreclosure, domestic violence, or just burnt bridges. Fact is most people in the shelters return to housing in less than 60 days. Transitional shelters are the in-patient houses where you want to send YOUR children, relatives, friends or even you to get sober, clean up, or otherwise get their act together.

The battles you are seeing unfold regarding funding are battles between two lines of thinking:

Housing First: Take all the money from the shelters and put it into rent to get people into apartments as fast as we can, then work on their issues.

Housing Second: A system that puts people FIRST so YOUR child, relative or friend has a safe place to be WHILE they find the expertise to deal with whatever issues they need to get rehoused.

As for Housing First, there is a big difference between theory and practice. Even the VA, which embraced the Housing First model with all of the resources of the federal government at its command, still takes 137 days for our veterans to get housed. And even with that some are referred to a shelter on a transitional basis for help with specific issues before being housed.

So then the questions needing to be asked are: How will they decide which of the 2800 individuals and families with children they will pay rent for?  And where will these families go during the 137 days if all the family shelters are closed?

The solution is not one or the other, but rather a balance. But balance is not on the table, they only put de-funding the shelters on the table. I have been a volunteer for this cause for 23 years, and as a CEO and philanthropist provided the startup funding for many programs including the startup funds for the Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board. The board was intended to bring the community together like we do with Tent City, not tear it apart. Since 2008, we have seen the gradual increase of pillaging federal funds intended to help those on the streets. These funds have been diverted to fund city departments, CDC’s, development, and this year the Homelessness Board itself. Historically, an objective Citizens Review Committee (CRC) evaluates CDBG proposals and recommends the funding for each. Last year the recommendations of both the CRC and the City of Toledo review committees were abandoned and replaced with a funding scheme of unknown origin or logic.

City Council has courageously stepped in to keep the shelters funded because they saw the injustice of closing the shelters and the extrapolated inevitable outcome of the lack of supply for the demand – people living and dying in camps along the river.    Thank you.



A Little Help from Our Friends

Written by Ken on . Posted in Uncategorized

One of the best things about doing this kind of work is the people you get to do it with – People who CARE about others. Selfless people united for a cause. We have previously documented the efforts of the team in Operation Houston.

We told you about Dusty & Chuck Hill who begat Kevin Maley, who begat Sheri Henderson, who begat David Rein Henderson, who begat Jacob Walsh, who begat Chris Hernandez. (And a host of others, but for today’s post, this is the string.)

Below is the video to give people a sense of what Veterans Matter is…. and it was the string above who all made it happen. David Rein Henderson is the one who asked “Do you want us to do the video?” He enlisted his video guru Jacob Walsh to handle the video and David used his expertise – 3D graphics – to create the 3D United States opening of the piece. David and Jacob, along with Chris, shot the interviews with Dusty and I during my trip to Houston last month.

Jacob did a great job editing and what you see here is the labor of love, love for our veterans, and love for those on the streets. Thank you all for your compassion. And thank you all for sharing your talent!

Very Fast Updates

Written by Ken on . Posted in Uncategorized

There is so much going on that we have not had time to post and update you:

LifeLine Nurse Kim with patient Marshall Dunbar

Partners, like LifeLine Toledo and its Mobile Medical bus staffed with volunteers like nurse Kim Warner, collaborate with 1Matters to provide services at Project Connect events.

Veterans Matter

Remarkable amount of progress.

  • Referrals from the Houston VA are continuing. Since 12/3 we have now housed 11 veteran families - 11 adults and 7 children.
  • Dusty and Chuck Hill are convening the formative meeting of the Houston Veterans Matter board on February 5th.  This is the group that is going to raise the remaining $100k.
  • Helping Dusty is this incredible guy named Kevin Maley, CEO of KO Supply. He is a sheer force of compassion himself and is bringing an incredible amount resources together to help not only Houston, but our national effort as well.
  • One of those assets is his personal assistant, Sheri Henderson who he has temporarily donated to us to help on the admin side. She was re-working our referral form and she suggested we revisit the idea of  an online referral system. Son of a gun, with the help of the Toledo (Dena & Shawn) and Houston (Geri) VASH managers we figured a way to address the privacy issue making the creation of a national online referral system allowable under VA guidelines.
  • Then steps in Main Sequence Technologies. Last Tuesday, the 15th, we contacted the owners and software gurus Marty and Mike Snyder who have been Ken’s day job (CEO of a headhunting firm since 1994) recruiting software vendor since helping them to define and launch their product back in 1996. Their system is a global online ASP/cloud-based contact management software. We wondered if they would/could help us re-purpose and customize their software to our precise needs, for free, and oh yah, at black-ops speed. Of course they said “hell yes,” and we estimated it would take 2 – 4 weeks. They committed one of  their finest, Andrew Rothman, to help us. Did we say black-ops?  Starting 1/15. by FRIDAY 2/18 he had a working demo model which we paced over the weekend. Revisions and aesthetics happened 2/21 an it was released the same day.  Seven days. This whole thing is black ops, baby.
  • Meanwhile, on the other side of town, through this cool guy in Washington named Dr. Josh Bamberger with USICH, this cool lady named Anne Miskey, executive director for Funders Together to End Homelessness contacted us. Funders Together coordinates 70 or so local and national foundations to impact the unhoused. This is a group that actually does stuff, rather than more studies, plans, etc. They had been doing this work already in the same space we are, so they called to see if there were ways we can coordinate. We spent the better part of an afternoon on the phone and identified numerous, pretty powerful synergies. She is now going to her board (a pretty impressive lot) and other resources to see if she can help raise some operations funds so we can launch this missile from pilot to national program. Given the resources, national scale could be deployed in less than 1 week. Black Ops, baby!
  • Anne is also sitting on a steering committee for a group staging a national concert to benefit unhoused veterans. She had the organizer, John McGah, give me a call last Friday. Again, great guy. He has been doing work with the unhoused for a very long time as well. We chatted for an hour and we are certain we have a great fit as far as mission and goals. Stay tuned, their could be a national rock concert helping us make the point, “Veterans Matter – We MUST take care of our own!”  ” Black Ops Baby!

Project Connect

Our Project Connect in Lenawee is a little over a week away, January 30th. We have Food for Thought and LifeLine Toledo Mobile Medical joining us. The event will run from 10 am to 2 pm and if you would like to volunteer with us, let us know.

Clothing Your Community

One of our volunteers’ favorite events… Cherry Street Mission is working with several local businesses and media to bring Toledo together and clothe the community. Go to their page for more information on drop-off sites for clothing and all the volunteer opportunities!

Enough for now… Onward – homeward.