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The Veterans Affairs Homeless Vets Stand Down was held over a two-day period, April 7 and 8 at Forest Park Community College. VCTC tabled as we have the last five years, offering computer literacy classes and raffling off lap top and desktop computers refurbished by our clients. Sixteen computers were given away to sixteen very happy people. Attendees claimed the event to be one of the best so far. We were able to get our message out to hundreds of veterans, male and female, who were impressed with what we have been able to accomplish in their community.
In 2005, Army veteran Kennedy Davis was sentenced to 15 years in Fulton Penitentiary for drug relatedcharges. That event caused him to have an epiphany and Davis wanted to get his life back on the right track. One year later, he was released for good behavior and in 2012 he graduated from Harris Stowe State University with a degree in business. After, he met his mentor in the Veterans Drug Court, Woody Powell, who served in the AirForce from 1950 to 1954 and fought in the Korean War 2012, Powell recruited Davis, who was discharged in 1982, and together the two started the Veterans Court Technology Clinic Inc., a nonprofit that trains veterans in computer skills and resume building. “It was like a calling, so to speak, like something I was meant to do,” said Davis, who is the organization’s executive director. “It has just been an uplifting thing to be able to help people get their life back together.” Since it opened, the nearly 3,000squarefoot clinic has served almost 250 people. Over twothirds of those who enroll are veterans, and of those, 5 percent went on to higher education and 24 percent found employment. When the clinic began in Spring 2012, it had six computer workstations; now it has nearly 25. In 2014, the clinic had a budget of just over $10,000, attained through individual donations. This year, the board would like to expand its budget to at least $70,000, depending on grantapplications. The extra money would be used to buy more computers, pay trainers andpurchase bus passes for the students. The clinic has four phases of classes, which are based on various levels of developing computerskills for employment. The classes range from basic document building to actual employmentconnection. The clinic focuses on one on one lessons led by volunteers, many of them pastgraduates. Five volunteers work at the Veterans Court Technology Clinic, located on the topfloor of Employment Connection at 2838 Market Street. The clinic was founded in association7/3/2015 : Helping vets boot up career development St. Louis Business Journal with the St. Louis Veterans Drug Court, Veterans for Peace and the Employment Connection. “I couldn’t even turn a computer on when I came here,” said Cecil Morton, who is the donation coordinator and a past graduate of the clinic. “If we can teach them to do an email and a resume, that means a whole lot to people.” On top of the technology training, the clinic attempts to be a support line for veterans and those who need their help with a variety of issues, said Powell, the nonprofit’s chairman. An Alcoholics Anonymous 12step meeting is held at the clinic every Wednesday at noon, he said. “Kennedy’s created an atmosphere where it’s totally nonjudgmental,” Powell said. “And these people can come in on their own schedule. Some of them don’t have transportation so they have to walk in, some of them come in off the street.” Because of the various types that enroll, Powell said graduation can take anywhere from three months to 18 months. But about 31 percent of the veterans drop out before graduation. “If we could get enough money to get bus passes and keep trainers on, that would really improve those numbers,” Powell said. The clinic has provided a new way of life for Davis. “I used to be so selfish, I used to think it was just about me and nobody else,” he said. “(The clinic) keeps me grounded, it keeps me thinking about others than myself.”
Richard B. Teitelman, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri, delivered the following State of the Judiciary address Wednesday morning, Jan. 23, 2013, during a joint session of the General Assembly in Jefferson City, Mo.
"And we now have three regional treatment courts serving the unique needs of our military veterans. One success story is Kennedy, who served in the Army in the 1980s and who, a decade later, fell into drug and alcohol abuse, leading to multiple arrests. Kennedy graduated from the St. Louis veterans treatment court this past September and now coordinates a computer clinic to help others in that program learn basic computer skills. The treatment court was his key to freedom from addiction and crime. Let’s salute Kennedy, who is here with us today."
I met Kennedy Davis when he came to the Jefferson Barracks Domiciliary where I was living because I was homeless.
This was around October 2012. He was signing people up for computer training to help the guys learn how to type
so they would be able to fill out thier job resumes. I already knew how to type. I need help with spreadsheets
on Excel. He told us to meet him at Employment Connection and he would get us started. We went that following
Monday. It took me 3 weeks to learn how to make slides on PowerPoint and also spreadsheets on excel. I enrolled
in the Community College at Florissant Valley and I needed a computer because the Domiciliary only had one for
everyone after hours. Kennedy provided me with a refurbished laptop so I was able to do my homework. I was able
to get my AAS in Deaf Communications. I would tell any Veteran to get in this program to learn basic computer skills.
These skills also help when you are typing on your Smartphone.
- Lisa Shelley