Downtown

Brooklyn Marriott donates household items to veterans

February 2, 2016 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge donated 1,600 plates, 100 pillowcases and 100 blankets to formerly homeless veterans whom the mayor’s office has found homes for. Pictured from left: Maryann Santora and Robert Mirabelle from the Marriott, Edward Schloeman, Tommie Lloyd and Nicole Branca of the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs, Dr. Lois Lee of Children of the Night, Sam Ibrahim and Mark Czerniak of the Marriott. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese

While Mayor Bill de Blasio has made an effort to ensure a roof over every veteran’s head, the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge is making sure that they have plates to eat off of under those roofs.

The Marriott donated 1,600 plates, 100 blankets and 100 pillowcases to Gen. (Ret.) Dr. Loree Sutton and the Department of Veterans Services last Friday. Those items will go to veterans for whom the city recently found housing.

The mayor made a commitment in early 2015 to end veteran homelessness in New York City. There were roughly 1,500 homeless veterans at that time. Today, there are only 624 vets awaiting housing, and 300 of those are expected to be housed within the next couple of months.

“From the very beginning of our campaign to end veteran homelessness, community partnerships have been the secret to success,” said Sutton, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs. “Under the leadership of Mayor Bill de Blasio, this city-driven, public-private, multi-agency partnership has placed a record number of homeless veterans in permanent housing, but much work remains to sustain our partnerships and connect veterans and their families to vital services, employment resources and social support.

“Thanks to Marriott’s generous donation, which we are celebrating today, hundreds of veterans will get the essentials they need to truly feel at home,” Sutton added.

It’s an impressive start, but the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs has been receiving feedback indicating that nearly 40 percent of the veterans were having trouble purchasing basic essentials even with the $1,000 furniture allowance they were given.

It was Edward Schloeman, president of Fidelis Services Group, which works with disabled veterans, who connected the Mayor’s Office with Sam Ibrahim, general manager of the Downtown Brooklyn’s Marriott.

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“Ed called me and told me they were looking to help the homeless and asked what I could do,” Ibrahim recalled. “I told him I had to talk to my employees. So I spoke with chef [Robert Mirabelle] and my director of services, Austin Jones, and they came up with these items.”

“That’s just the start; we’ll see how we can keep going,” Mirabelle added.

The Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs has been hard at work trying to find housing for the remaining homeless veterans and has put nearly every city agency to work in its efforts, according to officials. Army veteran Tommie Lloyd has been a big part of the effort and called it extremely rewarding work.

“If you could see the faces [and] the joy after they receive their keys, it’s unbelievable,” Lloyd said. “It’s very rewarding, especially the older guys who we’ve housed, in their 70s. We get guys calling us every other day to tell us how grateful they are. How they enjoy that independent living, be able to go shopping, be able to clear their own plates. It’s the little things that you and I take for granted.”

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