Kix Brooks Joins Veterans Matter Campaign!

Written by Abby Dudek on . Posted in Uncategorized

Kix Brooks official press release:




Tuesday, February 18, 2014
TOLEDO, Ohio – Award-winning recording artist and country music star Kix Brooks is the first honorary chairman of the Tennessee chapter of Veterans Matter, expanding the reach of an organization focused on providing housing to as many of our veterans as possible, as quickly as possible.

There are more than 57,000 homeless veterans across the country, and in Tennessee, 991 vets don’t have roofs over their heads.

“It’s really important to me that we take care of our service men and women,” said Brooks. “There are so many precautions taken to be sure they’re safe while they’re serving, but we also need to keep in mind what happens when they get home. Too often, they have been abandoned and forgotten on our nation’s streets and Veterans Matter is an organization that I am honored to be involved with for supporting veterans who need assistance getting back on their feet.”

Veterans Matter partners with the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help house homeless veterans. While voucher-assisted living is currently available to about 170 Tennessee veterans, rental deposits must be provided to landlords before veterans can move into their own apartments. Since rental deposits, averaging $750, are not easily or quickly covered by government programs, Veterans Matter speeds up the process by quickly funding deposits direct to landlords to get veterans immediately into housing.

“The support of Kix Brooks will undeniably save lives and help resuscitate health and dignity to those who have sacrificed for our country, and now are in dire need,” said Ken Leslie, founder of Veterans Matter.

Brooks is focused not just on raising funds to support the mission of Veterans Matter, but to engage a wider audience about the issues facing veterans and their families through social media and public-service announcements. Ninety cents of every dollar raised goes to immediate housing for our country’s military veterans.

“This is such a simple program. There are thousands of veterans and veterans’ families on the streets tonight. Many are just waiting on housing they are already approved for by HUD and the VA, but just need the rental deposit to get in their home,” said Mr. Brooks.

Since its founding in 2012, Veterans Matter has housed 180 veterans in 33 cities in five states.

Visit Operation Tennessee at to learn more.
# # #

Veterans Matter is a program of, and was started in 2012 by Ken Leslie, who was homeless before kicking drugs and alcohol in 1990. As the CEO of a small executive search firm since 1994, Leslie is a long time philanthropist dedicated to helping others in desperate need.

Following his run as one half of one of Country Music¹s most successful duos of all time, Kix Brooks continues his career as a solo touring/recording artist while simultaneously exploring new paths. With new production and lead acting credits for two recent film releases under his belt, he is currently nominated for the “ACM’s National On Air Personality of the Year,” which follows Brooks’ third CMA “National Broadcast Personality of The Year” win for his radio show American Country Countdown. Brooks also hosts his Kickin’ It with Kix radio show five nights a week, co-owns Nashville’s award-winning winery Arrington Vineyards, is a columnist for Country Weekly and has recently added public speaking to his resume. For a list of upcoming tour dates and more information on new projects, visit

Veterans Matter: Jean Mollmann jean[at]veteransmatter[dot]org

Kix Brooks: Tyne Parrish, The GreenRoom, tyne[at]thegreenroompr[dot]com

The Birth of Veterans Matter

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On February 6th, 2012 founder Ken Leslie was talking to the VA VASH coordinator Shawn Dowling about why some vet friends of his were not housed already in the VASH program. She told him because they were on the streets they had no jobs, so they did not have the average $600 required deposit. That night he conceived Veterans Matter. February 7th he called @Barb Petee with ProMedica and the Toledo Community Foundation, Inc. Promedica Advocacy Fund asking for $26k for the Veterans Matter pilot program. Though foundations are notoriously slow, he asked for it at black ops speed as there were veterans waiting. On February 10th, 6.30 am Ken was fleshing out the program operations manual this song below was released, he was number 376 to hear it. 7 days later, Valentines Day, at 5:36 pm Barb called with full funding. 3 days later the first veteran was housed out of the local family shelter. 11 days from idea to funding, all because Veterans Matter: We take care of our own.

Love All…

Written by Abby Dudek on . Posted in Uncategorized


2 Pope Francis is going out and taking love to the people.  He is working to help the poor and those treated unjustly. He is standing up for all.

He lives, “Everyone Matters!”  He is challenging all convention which has gotten us here, today.


  1. “Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that creates huge inequalities.”
  2.  “Money has to serve, not to rule.”
  3. “It hurts me when I see a priest or nun with the latest-model car. You can’t do this. A car is necessary to do a lot of work, but, please, choose a more humble one. If you like the fancy one, just think about how many children are dying of hunger in the world.”
  4.  “Oh, how I would like a poor Church, and for the poor.”
  5. “Help one another. This is what Jesus teaches us. This is what I do. And I do it with my heart.”
  6. “Anyone who wants to be pope doesn’t care much for themselves, God doesn’t bless them. I didn’t want to be pope.”
  7. “I dream of a church that is a mother and shepherdess.”
  8. AND the man does selfies!

Which of these values mean the most to you?  Click here to post your opinion to our Facebook.

Every 1Matters, right?

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.

The Differences We See

Written by Abby Dudek on . Posted in Uncategorized

We are sharing this video with you today, so that you can see the differences that we see. The line between poverty and privilege is very clear, and quite frankly often not fair. However, if we all come together we can build this community on a foundation of compassion and love for all of our fellow brothers and sisters.

Remembering the Forgotten

Written by Abby Dudek on . Posted in Uncategorized

Memorial web Banner









On the first day of winter we remember all of those who passed. From the men and women in the shelters to those who have served; we will honor the ones who are no longer with us. This holiday season we will remember. We ask that you join us to stand together and show the community that they too matter very much, and their life deserves to be honored.

To thank our hosts, Salem Lutheran Church, we ask that you bring personal hygiene products including: washcloths, bar soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, deodorant, combs/brushes, and lotion.

To join the event on Facebook follow this link: Click Here!


Plenty of Fun this Holiday Season!

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CaptureJoin our friends and The Radiation Blues Band and many of our other friends

in a day of entertainment to benefit 1Matters! Info is to your right  ———–>


Also Join us for the 1Matters Christmas Party @ Foresters on the river

  • Come on down to celebrate the holidays and an amazing year for 1Matters, Veterans Matter,

       Tent City, and much more!

  • Starts at 6pm Thursday December 19th and the address is: 26 Main Street, Toledo, Ohio 43605
  • Drink, eat, and be merry with us! We are also considering a “White Elephant” gift exchange

        if you all are interested! Also we have made the reservation, so all you have to do is show up!

Hope to see you there :)
Enjoy the holiday season!