Independence for Veterans shall provide support and assistance to Veterans of the United States Armed Forces. The support shall be in various forms, including but not limited to the provision of clothing, food, toiletries, household items and direct financial assistance. The Corporation shall also promote the needs of Veterans and their subsequent causes via any and all media and develop, plan and conduct various educational, cultural, social and/or recreational programs for Veterans and their families.
Nine years ago, to honor her late husband, Vietnam veteran, John E. McDonough, Stacia single-handedly started the annual, “They Kept Us Safe, Let’s Keep Them Warm,” new clothing/necessities Christmas collection benefiting the homeless veterans residing at New Jersey’s transitional housing facilities for veterans who have fallen on hard times.
The items are then sorted by Stacia and her team of dedicated volunteers, and hand delivered to struggling veterans at their residences.
Businesses throughout 5 New Jersey counties so graciously open their doors and their hearts, and act as drop off locations whereby the public may donate brand new clothing, toiletries and/or necessities (new bedding, etc.). The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates there are approximately over 40,000 homeless veterans in America.
“These statistics are immensely disturbing,” says Mrs. McDonough. “This dilemma must be addressed, and solved. These extraordinarily brave ex servicemen and women put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms. As Americans, and human beings, for their sacrifices it is our duty to make them a high priority, and safeguard them now.”
“For more than a decade, I witnessed firsthand the tremendous support of Stacia McDonough and the volunteer corps she built to support our veterans in need,” said Julia Bey Ahmet, Managing Director of Jeffrey Sobel Consulting and former Chief Development Officer of Community Hope/Hope For Veterans. “Each year, their holiday drive provided our homeless veterans with new coats, boots and warm winter clothing. Her compassion and dedication to our veterans is immeasurable and will drive the success of Independence for Veterans.”
Independence for Veterans will continue their new clothing drive year round, however, now they’re focusing on fundraising so they can construct tiny houses for homeless veterans. The homes will be gifted to each veteran, leaving them responsible for their utility bills, daily living expenses, etc.
For further information on contributing to this worthwhile cause, kindly visit our Donations page.
Our sincerest thanks to the incredibly generous N.J. businesses which have consistently participated. We couldn’t have done it without you.
Video by Stacia McDonough
Independence For Veterans, Inc., was inspired by late Vietnam Veteran, Sergeant John E. McDonough, Enlisted, U.S. Air Force, 21st TASS (Tactical Air Support Squadron). Throughout the Vietnam War, the 21st TASS was awarded 5 prestigious Presidential Unit Citations, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross.
John was the ultimate patriot, born on the 4th of July. He chose to enlist in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, in lieu of going to college. He was stationed in Saigon and Nha Trang.
John's incredible love of this country, the American Way, and especially his love and respect of his brothers-in-arms was extraordinary.
On a cold November Veteran's Day in 2008, Sergeant John E. McDonough was posthumously inducted into the New Jersey Vietnam Veteran's Memorial distinct, "In Memory," program.
Independence For Veterans is a fitting tribute to an exceptionally accomplished, brave, and philanthropic human being.
Sergeant John E. McDonough
Stacia is the President of Independence for Veterans, Inc. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Monmouth University. Stacia has authored two acclaimed children’s books, published numerous articles, has had her original recipes printed in several cook books and magazines, is a proud member of Rolling Thunder National Inc., and was the CEO of the award-winning doll manufacturer, Neva Dolls®️. Stacia is the widow of decorated Vietnam Veteran, Sergeant John E. McDonough, and has been volunteering with homeless veterans for 14 years prior to launching “Independence for Veterans.” To honor her late, beloved husband she founded, “They Kept Us Safe, Let’s Keep Them Warm,” an annual Christmas, new clothing/toiletries/necessities drive benefiting homeless veterans residing at two transitional housing facilities in New Jersey. Throughout the years, Stacia has been honored with numerous awards for her profound devotion, and contributions to this most worthwhile cause.
Traci currently serves as the Chapel Administrator at Grace Chapel of Bedminster and as the Personal Assistant to the Lead Pastor. She formerly worked as the Executive Assistant to the President of Cathedral Consulting Group, Calyx Capital Advisors and The Center for Christian Business Ethics. Prior to that, Traci served as an Account Manager at City Federal Savings Bank. Traci volunteers at Market Street Mission and Independence for Veterans. She resides in Flanders and has 2 children and 3 grandchildren.
Traci's son-in-law currently serves as a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy.
Mr Andrew DaPonte is a retired financial executive with 50 years experience in the brokerage industry. He was a general partner at Cowen & Company for 20 years and served on a number of Boards, including as a Director on the Chicago Stock Exchange.
Antonella is the Assistant Vice President of Investors Bank, and Branch Manager of the Pluckemin, N.J. branch. She joined Investors Bank in 1986; she is responsible for the growth of her branch by developing and retaining business relationships. She maintains a strong presence with local community organizations and community events. Currently, she in involved with S.H.I.P, St Johns Soup Kitchen and The Literacy Foundation of Somerset County and various other non for profits. Antonella has worked over 30 years at Investors Bank; she has experience in sales, operations and customers service. In 2010 she received a Community Service Award by her peers and in 2012 the bank awarded her with an Employee of year Award. Antonella received her banking certification through NJB. She also enjoys walking, biking, reading, traveling, and listening to music.
Louis had a prolific profession in construction, and the global timber industry. He has spent a great deal of of time living abroad. His father was a decorated WWI veteran, his four maternal uncles served in the Pacific during WWII, and his late son-in-law served in Vietnam. Louis has been active in the community championing the rights of under served veterans.
Robin serves as Municipal Recreation Director and Deputy Clerk/Registrar for the Township of Bedminster. Formerly she served as a marketing, project and event manager with AT&T and Bohler Engineering; and is a graduate of University of Rhode Island. Robin is an active community volunteer who has worked with numerous non-profit organizations serving in various capacities including: The Friends of the Jacobus Vanderveer House & Museum in Bedminster, Philadelphia University, Bernards High School, New Jersey Special Olympics, Raritan Headwaters (formerly Upper Raritan Watershed Association), Bedminster Charities Golf Classic, and Alpha Xi Delta Foundation. Robin resides in Bedminster with her husband William of 30 years, and has two grown children Emily and Devin who reside in Manhattan.
Joseph is an attorney with Lowenstein Sandler in Roseland, New Jersey. Mr. Romano holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and Finance from Bentley University, a J.D. from Seton Hall University School of Law, and is currently pursuing a Masters of Law in Taxation at New York University. Mr. Romano is licensed to practice in New Jersey and Florida.
Mike was the Chief Executive Officer of the nonprofit, Community Hope, from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. Under Mike’s leadership, the agency grew tremendously, making it the leading nonprofit in and around New Jersey serving veterans and their families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Having served in the military himself, Mike has been a huge advocate for veterans and developed numerous nationally recognized programs to serve veterans and their families. During Mike’s first year at Community Hope, the agency established the first supportive housing program in Morris County. Community Hope also has the distinction of hosting the largest fundraising events of the membership. He brought together all his expertise in mental health care, addictions treatment and organizational leadership, and his compassion to achieve an indelible impact on tens of thousands of New Jersey residents over the years. Mike also had a lasting influence during his many years on the NJAMHAA (New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies) Board, including time served as Board President. He recently received the NJAMHAA Lifetime Achievement Award in Community-based Serv
Independence For Veterans is a 501(c)3 organization and donations are tax-exempt to the extent allowed by law.
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