By Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez, 15th Wing Public Affairs
Balancing an Air Force career and being a mother didn’t seem to be enough for Tech. Sgt. ShaDonna McPhaul, the 324th Intelligence Squadron NCO in charge of knowledge operations. In addition to those fulltime jobs, she decided to add another project to her life — one that makes a positive difference in the homeless veteran community.
After researching online and with the help of volunteers, McPhaul started the process of creating a non-profit organization, Mo’s Heroes, Inc., an organization that provides services and information to assist homeless veterans in reintegrating into the labor force.
“This is a passion of mine, and I’ve always been the type of person to help others,” McPhaul said. “Our veterans need all the help they can get, so I pulled my resources together to start this project and help get the vets back on their feet and reintegrated into society.”
McPhaul, a native of Fayetteville, N.C., can recall growing up near Fort Bragg and seeing homeless veterans and veterans in need. One evening in late 2013, she decided it was time to make a difference and help. From that point on, the planning of Mo’s Heroes was in full swing.
“I knew that I had the knowledge and the resources to do this,” McPhaul said. “Most people that volunteer with us are veterans themselves, so they were more than willing to help us get organized and put their professions together to get things done.”
Mo’s Heroes, Inc. is an employment-focused organization, providing services to help with job placement, training, job development, career counseling and resume preparation. In addition, the organization will provide supportive services such as clothing assistance, housing assistance, referrals to medical and substance abuse treatment, and transportation assistance.
“No veteran deserves to be living underneath a bridge or in their car,” McPhaul said. “We want to give them peace of mind by securing a roof over their head.”
So far, Mo’s Heroes has partnered with a Honolulu homeless shelter, assisting the homeless and people at risk of being homeless, on a trial basis in order to further build the organization’s plan. This helps Mo’s Heroes better assess what local homeless veterans need in order to maximize assistance.
Chaplain (Capt.) Deborah Hugh-ley from the 15th Wing volunteered with Mo’s Heroes during a visit to a local homeless shelter. Volunteers served food to homeless veterans and listened to their stories about how they got into their current situation.
“I was happy to be there, and [the veterans] were happy to have us come out to visit,” Hughley said. “It let them know we are thinking about them and taking steps to help them further in the future, so no homeless veteran is left behind. Just because a person no longer serves in the military doesn’t mean we aren’t still family.”
McPhaul said another part of creating Mo’s Heroes is the positive impact it can have on her son.
“It’s important to be a good example for my son and help him understand how important veterans are to this country, and we should always find ways to help them,” McPhaul said.
While working full-time, taking care of her family and managing a non-profit organization seems like a lot, McPhaul finds satisfaction in knowing she is helping others earn what she has and cherishes.
“It takes a lot out of me but when everything is up and running helping veterans, that’s my payoff,” McPhaul said. “We’ll be helping these people get back on their feet, and it will be so worth it to see.”