NASCAR Xfinity Series and UMP DirtCar Race Car Driver Connor Otten on Aug. 2 spent some time at Escape RV for a good cause. The driver made a guest appearance in hopes of spreading awareness about the importance of supporting U.S. veterans and their families who may be struggling from joblessness, homelessness, disabilities or displacement.
Extreme Energy Solutions, parent company of Extreme Kleaner, had kicked off their annual Summer Tour of Stores program with a twist to this year's launch by inviting Project Help to join them at the first store launch of the tour.
Project Help is a non-profit organization that aims to assist Veterans that are homeless, displaced, disabled, and jobless, and cannot find help for their needs from the VA. Based in Sussex County, New Jersey, the volunteer organization has helped provide resources to veterans in need including gas and grocery gift cards, backpacks with essential items, clothing, and reconditioned laptops.
Project Help has assisted some veterans with immediate needs, such as finding veteran housing and/or funding temporary housing, transportation, or assistance with their utilities when all other avenues of relief have been exhausted.
To create additional awareness for Project Help, NASCAR Race Car Driver David Starr reserved a space on his car for the organization to be represented during the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Race at Watkins Glen (August 4) and at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (August 11). Project Help could also be seen on the #10 Fast Track Racing Enterprises ARCA entry driven by Tommy Vigh Jr. at ARCA races held at Madison International Speedway, as well as at Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Illinois, and at DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in DuQuoin, Illinois on Sept. 3.
In addition to providing short-term critical financing for veterans and their families who are facing eviction, repossession or homelessness, Project Help works with veterans in job placement opportunities and employer-employee match making.
"The only way we can continue to help Veterans is by increasing our donation count," said Sandy Mitchell, founder and CEO of Project Help. "The number of Veterans that come to our door is staggering. We have seen and assisted veterans in various situations, from those that were living in their car, to situations where veterans and their families were on the verge of having their utilities cut off and facing eviction, to veterans that just needed assistance in accessing their earned health care benefits through the VA.
"Every veteran situation is different, however in New Jersey alone, there are over 6,000-plus homeless veterans—veterans who fought for our ability to enjoy freedoms and a place to live without threat."
Extreme Energy Solutions has partnered with Project Help from its inception, and donates a portion of every sale of its product Extreme Kleaner back to the nonprofit.
"Assisting Veterans is very near and dear to our culture, as many of our staff and some of our leadership has also served in the Military," said Samuel K. Burlum, CEO and president of Extreme Energy Solutions. "Giving back has always been part of our company culture. When we found out that 100 percent of the proceeds donated to Project Help go directly to assist veterans and we were able to see first-hand how Project Help has been able to positively affect the lives of veterans that were turned away by so many other organizations, Extreme Energy Solutions decided to continue backing the non-profit."
Extreme Energy Solutions continues to assist Project Help with two of their current initiatives: The Project Help Mobile Closet, and the 2018 Visions Fundraiser. Project Help's Mobile Closet is a donated school bus converted to house and transport clothing, used laptops, and other necessities for veteran access. Veterans are free to collect the clothing and other items they need in order to get ready for interviews with potential employers.
Project Help's Visions Event is an annual fundraising event in which local/regional artists donate artwork which is auctioned off to bidding attendees. The proceeds of the auction then are turned over to Project Help to continue funding its Mobile Closet and Veteran Needs Fund.
"We need more corporate partners like Extreme Energy Solutions so that we can continue to make a difference," Mitchell said.
Project Help is nearing its annual fundraiser event, Visions 2018 Auction, set for Oct. 18 in Northern New Jersey