“Our relationship with CUB is personal,” says Hank Patton, President/CEO of USA Cares. “We have friends at the bank. They support our events; they support our activities. They help us and do it with a smile; they do it face-to-face. It’s not one of those situations that it’s a bank across America that we can’t deal with. We can talk to them. If we have something we need to work through. They certainly work with us to get that done.”
USA Cares was launched through a grassroots partnership between WAVE-3 TV in Louisville, Ky., the Mid-South Division of Kroger Food Stores, and the Association of the United States Army Fort Knox Chapter. Originally called Kentuckiana Cares, the sale of “Support Our Troops” yard signs provided funds to help military families in crisis. Now a 501(c)(3) national non-profit, the organization relies on the generosity of corporations and individuals to help it provide financial and advocacy assistance.
“Since our inception, we’ve distributed more than $15 million in support and responded to more than 112,000 folks,” Patton says. The goal is to help restore financial stability and self-sufficiency when post-9/11 veterans and military families suffer a hardship related to their service. “Everyone at CUB has been supportive of us.”
Patton says that CUB understands the immediacy of what they do. “Folks call and the wolf is at the door. They’re about to have a car repossessed; a home foreclosed or maybe facing eviction. They don’t have water, electric or gas. CUB responds to us. That’s one of the reasons we stay with them.”
After USA Cares vets a request, they seek to provide assistance within 48 hours. They pay the mortgage lenders, utility companies and other vendors directly, not the service members or their families.
“We have several veterans working at CUB,” says Wenta. “The challenge of veterans and what they face is a big reason we support USA Cares and its mission. The veterans at CUB are employed; they have a job and may not need assistance, but there are many other veterans that do. That’s what USA Cares does.”
USA Cares has many events around the United States to support veterans and raise funds such as a care package drive for homeless veterans, a free career and education expo for veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses, and an annual gala. CUB partners with them on these events by serving on the gala committee, sponsoring tables, securing auction items and spreading the word among its corporate customers.
“CUB has been a great partner,” says Patton. “They understand what we’re trying to do, how the services are delivered. They’ve come to our headquarters, they’ve seen us in action.”