Saturday, August 1, 2015

Volunteers OF America, Helping or Hurting Veterans Futures At Hope Manor I Chicago?

The Truth Behind Volunteers of America

Hope Manor I Chicago, Illinois

I have always found it to be quite fascinating the manner in which organizations choose to characterize their own set of accomplishments. As for the most part these characterizations are designed simply to assure that whoever these organizations get their funding from continues to give funding, once the organization has attained a certain degree of success, that funding becomes almost automatic, or, a given. As the mantra basically states that “we have achieved our stated goal, therefore we are and will continue to be viewed as a success”, the disturbing truth about much of their so called success has little to do with the attained results they in fact were responsible for achieving in the first place.

Such is the case with Volunteers of America and their Chicago project entitled Hope Manor I.

This facility, located in the Humboldt Park neighborhood in Chicago, was designed and built to become a facility for American military veterans who, for one reason or another, had found themselves homeless. With the intention being that if in fact the Volunteers of America could develop a program that would serve as some sort of a launch pad for veterans, a place to both house and refresh the spirits of men who unfortunately had dropped off the radar screen of normal life, could in fact find a tremendously fresh focus on both their personal and professional life goals.

A grand gesture of caring indeed, and coming from an organization with a long history of caring, the Volunteers of America and their Hope Manor I facility was slated to become just that.
But then, as it often does, the real truth got in the way. And, from within that real truth, the real nature of the organization began to surface. As it did, it became more and more obvious that the product the Volunteers of America was selling was nothing more than a means to continue to foster a broad host of social welfare programs that were collectively failing at the task of providing anyone homeless or not with nothing more than empty promises and simply bundling them together, sticking them into a brand new building, calling that building a home specifically designed for American military veterans and then simply walking away from any responsibility to or for those veterans completely.

This my readers, is Hope Manor I in Humboldt Park, Chicago run by Volunteers of America Illinois. As what takes place inside this facility is unfortunately far less attractive than the facade it hides behind, the fact that this facility is so poorly managed goes right to the issue that while one might have the money and influence to build a castle, there is virtually no guarantee of the foundation the castle sits upon.

Below are a series of three letters that have been sent to a man by the name of Michael King. Mr. King's picture is below. He is the Chief Operating Officer at Volunteers of America in Washington DC.

The man who processed these letters that were sent to Mr. King is John Burke. Mr. Burke is in charge of both housing and public relations. He apparently is the go to guy for exchanging all types of information that comes and goes in the VOA organization on a daily basis. He then, is of course, the guy the three letters addressed to Michael King went to which means that the likelihood of Michael King ever receiving the information sent to him “by a man who is actually living in Hope Manor I and who is an American military veteran needing the real and basic structural help he was promised by Hope Manor I in Chicago, but has not, in any manner whatsoever received” is entirely dependent upon the work of John Burke whose picture is below.

As John Burke is not only the intermediary between Mr. King and the complaining Hope Manor I American military veteran who is not getting promised help, Mr. Burke is as well the intermediary between those charged with solving the problem as well as those charged with executing the solutions for the greater good of not only the one complaining tenant but others as well.

Thus far, it appears as if Mr. Burch has not in any manner whatsoever done his job.

But then again maybe he simply needs more time to sort through the issues
represented in the letters you can read below.

3053 West Franklin Boulevard
Chicago, Illinois 60612

Volunteers of America
1660 Duke Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314

Attention: Michael King

July 5, 2015

Dear Mr. King

I have been a resident of Hope Manor I (which of course is a facility run by Volunteers of America here in Chicago) for a bit more than two weeks. Needless to say, one of the reasons why I am here is that I am currently a “Homeless Veteran”. Beyond this singular fact, I do not have what unfortunately has been assumed as being the usual characteristics of an individual veteran that is homeless.

In other words, I do not have a drug addiction problem. I do not have an alcohol addiction problem. I do not take any mood or behavioral modification medications. I do not have a criminal background. I do not suffer from PTSD. I do not have one thing in my entire past that would indicate anything other than I simply was unfortunate enough to have been born with a congenital birth defect that again, quite unfortunately, went medically misdiagnosed for the first fifty years of my life.

As a result of this situation, a few years ago I was diagnosed as being 95% deaf and suffered from severe, almost constant vertigo that rendered me very much incapable of doing the work of a master carpenter that I have spent my life happily and professionally doing quite well. Needless to say after more than a few years of witnessing my physical performance levels being substantially reduced, my economic livelihood was reduced just as much. Fortunately today, for the first time in more than ten years, I find myself on the other side of this particular life obstacle. Having had now three successful reconstructive ENT plastic surgeries at both Loyola Hospital and Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Hospital, my health on all levels has improved dramatically.

As it has, and, I can say that now living at Hope Manor I is giving me the opportunity to take the time to essentially repackage both my personal and professional image, and I am doing just that quite well, I am writing you to express my concern over the management at this facility, and, in particular, an overall attitude I have witnessed by the staff at this facility in the short time I have been here.

As it is quite clear to me that a number of the tenants in this facility are dealing with a wide variety of disorders, it is equally clear to me that the staff has, for one reason or another, grown to adopt an attitude that is both an essay on getting way to comfortable with their job titles while being remarkably belittling to not only a number of those who I live with, but, to myself as well.

Drawing your attention to one individual in particular, Mariah Eversole who is the facilities something or other manager, her overall approach to dealing with any particular situation is more or less to adopt an attitude that essentially states, that because she assumes that she is running the ship, she assumes as well that she can freely dump her personal moods, emotional disorders and personal opinions onto people who know virtually nothing at all about the reasons why she appears to be both personally unhappy and strikingly vindictive to others as a result.

In the short time I have been at this facility, virtually every encounter I have had with this woman, all of which were basically simple yes and no based informational exchanges, have been met with a wall of personal defensiveness that I have not encountered by anyone in any professional field in decades. Given the fact that this woman is in a professional field that of all fields, should clearly indicate to her that she is dealing with a rather large population of individuals who at times can be quite psychologically draining, I have taken the stance with Ms. Eversole that if given the kindness and patience she deserves, perhaps she might become a bit more civil and most assuredly more professional in her role as someone whose job is to simply hand a veteran a bus pass, give that veteran a laundry card (so that he can simply wash his damned clothes) and answer basic black and white questions with basic black and white answers without in any manner whatsoever coming to a conclusion that one veterans request for such basic services has to be met with her personal assumptions rather than professional assessments of an individuals' actual professional needs.

I want this entirely needless level of petty, adolescent behavior to immediately stop Mike. As it is perfectly clear to me that any type of professional team endeavor is only as good as the psychological make up of the team leader, in this case, her personality is spilling over not only to those who live here at Hope Manor but also to those who are unfortunate enough to have to work here under her needlessly aggressive, hostility based management style.

To put this issue quite bluntly Mr. King.

  1. I need a weekly bus pass to go out into the City of Chicago to interact with the professionals that have the professional potential and financial capacity to hire me.
  2. I need money on my laundry card on a weekly basis so that when I take the bus, I am presentable to those around me as I am presentable in front of the individual who will be interviewing me as well.
  3. In turn, getting these two items should not be met with a series of child like pouting sessions coming from Ms. Eversole as she attempts to uncover some sort of bizarre ulterior motive for my requests.
  4. She is to state exactly what she needs from the veteran in terms of documentation for the bus pass and that is all.
  5. Any bit of belittlement coming from Ms. Eversole and being directed to an entirely unsuspecting veteran that is clearly an expression of her own private emotional and personal identity based struggles should be met with a severe, professional reprimand and an equally succinct professional warning to cease and desist.
  6. As I am the father of three grown daughters ranging in ages from 38 to 26, I can assure anyone that at this stage of my life, I do not need to assist any of them with their emotional development nor do I, or, will I, in any manner whatsoever, assist Ms. Eversole with hers.
  7. As Hope Manor is essentially run by a group of people who are operating under the funding of many public and some private entities, the notion of subjecting veterans to this type of unprofessional nonsense does virtually nothing for either the veterans' own personal situation or the long term and historically honorable reputation of Volunteers of America.

Thank you very much for your time.



3053 West Franklin Boulevard
Chicago, Illinois 60612

Volunteers of America
1660 Duke Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314

Attention: Michael King

July 18, 2015

Dear Mr. King

This is now the second time I am contacting you with a complaint. A copy of the first complaint is pasted below.

As I was under the impression that as a result of my conversation with Vanessa Beye at VOA's Chicago office on Friday July 10, 2015 some of the issues I addressed earlier were in fact going to be addressed, thus far it appears as if not only has this not been the case, but, in fact, things are getting absurdly worse.

Below is the latest time line of events that have taken place and have adversely affected my own ability to simply go to work, wash my damn clothes once again, attend needed medical appointments and meet with others outside of Hope Manor I to affect the overall positive direction I am moving in on my own without any help whatsoever from any dimwitted member of the entire Hope Manor I staff.

Please read the following information carefully.

July 10, 2015 Friday
  • Had a lengthy and in depth conversation with Vanessa Beye as to the content of my original complaint about Hope Manor I dated July 5, 2015.
  • Left out of that conversation with the sense that my complaint would be addressed.

July 13, 2015 Monday
  • Discussed in the AM with Briggette Britton my RSS the fact that I had found employment and would be starting work on Tuesday July 14, 2015.
  • Received a written notice in the PM from Briggette Britton that she would be leaving Hope Manor I as of July 22, 2015 and I should refer my needs to a Mishemma Ford.

July 14, 2015 Tuesday
  • Used the office phone of Mariah Eversole to contact Hines Hospital over concerns I was having with the medication prescribed to me by oral surgeons who had recently done surgery on my mouth.
  • Mariah Eversole was present at that telephone conversation.
  • I was advised from Hines to admit myself to the ER Department within 48 hours.
  • Went to my first day of work at 12 noon in Wicker Park, Illinois.

July 15, 2015 Wednesday
  • Went to work in Wicker Park at 8 AM.
  • Returned at 5PM.
  • Was advised by Hines Hospital to be at the hospital at 8AM the following morning.
  • Filled out my usual request for transportation assistance upon arriving back at Hope Manor I at approximately PM.
  • Handed request to Christine Kelly and asked her if she would please give this to Mariah Eversole in the morning as I would be leaving Hope Manor I before Mariah would arrive on Thursday July 16, 2015.
  • Ms. Kelly assured me that Mariah Eversole would get the document she needed to have by 12 noon on Thursday July 16, 2015 so that I would be assured that my transportation needs would be covered for the following week.

July 16, 2015 Thursday
  • Went to Hines Hospital ER and was admitted with an infected abscess that was caused by my body's unforseen allergic reaction to the antibiotic prescribed to me by the oral surgery department at Hines Hospital.
  • Surgery was performed on my leg that day.
  • I was prescribed new medication and released.
  • Went back to Hope Manor I to contact Mariah Eversole about the fact that I needed to have her put money on my laundry card so that I would be able to do my laundry over the upcoming weekend.
  • I was told that Ms. Eversole had already left for the day by Yolanda Santiago and Briggette Britton and that I could talk to Ms. Eversole in the morning.
  • When I attempted to inform both Ms. Santiago and Ms. Britton of the fact that on the morning of Friday July 17, 2015 that I would again be away from Hope Manor I prior to Ms. Eversole arriving, Ms. Santiago told me she would place my laundry card with Ms. Eversole and assured me that I would have the card for the weekend.
  • I went to bed to get some sleep and recover from the surgery I had earlier in the day at Hines Hospital.

July 17, 2015 Friday
  • I went to work at 6AM in Wicker Park.
  • I arrived home at 6PM at Hope Manor I.

July 18, 2015 Saturday
  • Took the Blue Line to Hines Hospital ER at 8AM so that attending physicians could examine my surgical wound, remove surgical gauze and repak same.
  • Attempted to take the Blue Line home from Forest Park, Illinois only to discover that my transit card no longer had any funds attached to it.
  • Walked to the Forest Park Police Station and asked to use the phone to contact Hope Manor and inform them about my transit situation.
  • There was no damned answer at Hope Manor I.
  • Was given money for the blue line from a complete stranger.
  • Arrived back at Hope Manor I and attempted to find out what had happened. Was met by Christine Kelly with indifference and the simple statement that I would have to bring this up with Ms. Eversole on Monday. Reminding Ms. Kelly that on Monday I needed to be at work at 7AM, needed to have money on my damned transit pass to get to work and that Ms. Eversole would not be there on Monday at that time, I was again met with arrogant indifference.
  • Seeking the whereabouts of my laundry card, again not to be found until I talk to Ms. Eversole on Monday July 20, 2015.

I am tired of being treated like a halfwit by nitwits Mr. King, and, you my friend appear to have collected at the very least, a few of them.

Thank you again for your time.


3053 West Franklin Boulevard
Chicago, Illinois 60612

Volunteers of America
1660 Duke Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314

Attention: Michael King

July 22, 2015

Dear Mr. King

Well, here we all are again Mr. King just four days from the date of my last correspondence to you with the same damn old issue still staring the two of us right in the face.

As it must appear to you that on one level I am some sort of a God Damned rambling idiot, I can assure you that I am shaking my ahead in every bit the same manner you are shaking yours about this whole goofy ass issue. At any rate, the issue is real, it's not going away, and as it is not, my life both personally and professionally is simply and profoundly on hold due to a overwhelming and continuous managerial problem that is at best easy to once and for all resolve yet virtually incapable of doing so due to the fact that the staff here at Home Manor I operates from within a constant defensive posture as opposed to a proactive open dialog posture among not only the staff and the men who stay at Hope Manor I but the larger community that could clearly benefit if in fact the Children in The Office put on big boys and big girls clothing those in many other veteran based service organizations so readily do and do well.

Let's get to the most recent timeline of events.

July 18, 2015 Saturday
  • I emailed you a document pertaining to the ongoing nature of the problems I am encountering here at Hope Manor I.
  • Attempted to find a solution to the transit card fiasco.
  • Discussed the issue with Hope Manor's weekend resident manager Stewart Smith.
  • Stewart suggested that there would be little to no resolution to the matter until Monday and gave me ten dollars of his own money so that I might be able to get to work on Monday, July 20, 2015.

July 19, 2015 Sunday
  • Attempted to find a solution to my laundry problem to no avail.
  • Discussed with Ricardo Marcial in Room 306, the whole situation here at Hope Manor.
  • Mr. Marcial ended up giving me another five dollars for my transportation needs on Monday, July 19, 2015.

July 20, 2015 Monday
  • Left for work at 8:00 am.
  • Attempted to board the 52 Kedzie bus and use my Hope Manor I Transit pass.
  • Attempt failed.
  • Walked four blocks down Kedzie to the Green Line and utilized ten of the fifteen dollars Stewart and Ricardo had given to me over the weekend.
  • Got on the bus and went to work.
  • At approximately 10:30 am, I received a call from Briggette Briton.
  • She was calling to apologize to me (what she was apologizing for was never really made clear).
  • I asked her specifically about the transit pass and when it was going to be activated.
  • She assured me that it would be and we set up a time of approximately 6:00pm on Wednesday, July 22, 2015 to discuss the fact that she was leaving.
  • Left work at 5:00 pm, walked to the bus stop, waited for the bus, got on the damn thing with the Hope Manor I transit pass in my hand only to discover that still no money had been placed on the card.
  • I used the card I had purchased earlier in the day to get home.

July 21, 2015 Tuesday
  • Went to work at 6:00am.
  • Walked down to the 52 bus, got on, attempted to use the Hope Manor I transit pass, still no money on card, used the pass I had purchased on Monday morning with the money given to me by Stewart and Ricardo.
  • Worked from 7:00am to 5:00pm up on Wrightwood Drive in north Chicago where we are currently renovating a home.
  • Left work at 5:00pm this time with both transit passes in my hand thinking, quite obviously that it would be a good idea.
  • Tried the Hope Manor I pass – nothing.
  • Tried my pass – nothing.
  • Having virtually no experience with the Chicago public transit system, I had no idea how much money ten dollars would take me. Obviously, it wasn't enough.
  • Called Hope Manor I thinking that I might get a hold of a functioning human being (ie: Briggette Britton perhaps), no answer.
  • Fortunately for me, one of my coworkers was leaving the Wrightwood project and stopped to drive me home to Hope Manor I.
  • Upon arrival at Hope Manor I, I knocked on the office door in hopes of talking to Briggette Britton.
  • Once meeting with her, I presented two transit passes, both with no money on them and expressed in no uncertain terms my anger over this whole God Damned mess.
  • She again was apologetic and stated that the Hope Manor I pass would be filled up until Friday.
  • As she was supposedly filling the pass up and also taking care of my laundry card, I waited in the hallway outside.
  • Once she had finished, she came out and handed my the transit pass and I left to walk down to the grocery store for dinner stuff.
  • Went home, cooked dinner, checked emails and went to bed.
July 22, 2015 Wednesday
  • Got up at 5:00 am as I have been doing every day since I have been born, and began my day.
  • As of course, part of the early morning day is showering and cooking breakfast, it is as well, taking stock of the stuff that will come before you as the day unfolds and preparing accordingly.
  • Part of my preparation was making sure I had my Hope Manor I Transit Pass.
  • Low and behold, upon inspection at roughly 5:45am, I look at the pass and discover that of the two passes I had left on Briggette Brittons' desk, she had given mine back to me.
  • After more than three God Damned weeks dealing with the incompetency of your fucking morons Mr. King, knowing full well that I had to be out the door and on the God Damned job at 7:00am, I just threw up my hands and said fuck it.
  • And that's where you and I are at at this moment today Mr. King.

Here are a few very legal and extremely well documented facts surrounding the history of my transaction with Hope Manor I and Volunteers of America since June 13, 2015.

  • I had a valid job offer in Lake Bluff, Illinois in less than 7 days of living in your Hope Manor I facility.
  • When I asked for transportation funds to actually get up to Lake Bluff and interview for the job, by the time your team figured out whether or not they could actually get me those funds, the job offer expired.
  • Prior to my initial complaint/contact with VOA DC, I had a job offer in Elgin, Illinois that again required funds to be expended on my behalf by Hope Manor I. Again, after much round about nonsense, this job expired as well. This particular job was a $70,000.00 annual position with a very respected commercial retail display company.
  • As I am a master carpenter, these are actually the type of job offers I am supposed to be fielding Mr. King.
  • In the slightly more than three weeks I have been in the Hope Manor I facility, I have canvassed approximately forty Chicago based manufacturing, retail and service sector companies with direct affiliations to the type of work I have done in the past forty years.
  • Every single one of these companies exist within no more than a five mile radius from Hope Manor I.
  • All of what I am stating here is fully documented.
  • Working specifically with National Able in Chicago, my network of business contacts on both LinkedIN and Twitter has expanded by 87 percent.
  • Attempting to work with your employee Lucas (whatever) at Hope Manor I and an individual by the name of Robert at VOA Chicago (Polk Street) by attending whatever it is VOA calls a job training workshop, can only be compared to hanging around with two hopelessly immature thirty something year old boys who learned human psychology by watching the Simpson's and Sponge Bob and have yet to learn a thing about industrial America and specifically industrial Chicago which for decades has been considered to be the engineering center of America.
At this very moment in time Mr. King, and in spite of all of the personal and professional effort I have put into getting back on my feet after undergoing a few very successful surgeries done by very professional people at Hines Veterans Hospital, your organization has done nothing but impede that success for the singular and consistent benefit of protecting those who probably should not have the jobs they currently occupy within your organization.

I was introduced to the Volunteers of America for the first time back in 1975 by a friend who was affiliated with your organization. Needless to say she was devoted to your efforts as anyone with either half a brain or half a heart would be. You people do good things when you have good people.

This is the third time I've attempted to convey to you that Hope Manor I is in a perpetual state of managerial befuddlement.

I am really getting tired of this shit, Mike.




Interesting little tale here, wouldn't you say?

It sounds like the patient knows a bit more than the doctor.

But, of course, the patient is honest.

If you are interested in finding out how this particular issue is going to be resolved at Volunteers Of America, you can emailJohn Burke and ask him right now.


Brandon Crow


Nancy Hughes Moyer

Thanks for stopping by.

Mike Patrick Dahlke

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