By: Christina Antos, Anka Behavioral Health, Inc.
AKRON, MI – On May 20, 2013, non-profit organization, Anka Behavioral Health, Inc. (Anka), opened the doors of their new veterans’ assistance program, Anka Akron, in the rural village of Akron, Michigan. Anka Akron is a transitional housing program for veterans experiencing homelessness and co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders.
With the eighth largest population of Veterans in the country, the need for veteran services within the state of Michigan is significant. Services for veterans facing homelessness is also crucial as recent data has revealed that homeless veterans account for nearly 10% of the homeless population.
Developed in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs through grant per diem funds, the Anka Akron Program will provide transitional housing to homeless veterans for up to two years while they receive a variety of supportive services that will help them build the tools necessary to manage their illness and transition back into the community. The program will link veterans to a variety of resources, including mental health and substance abuse treatment, health care, legal and benefits assistance, transportation, permanent housing, vocational services, and recreational opportunities that increase life satisfaction, social skills, responsibility, and independence.
Once the site of a child care facility, Anka has owned the now veterans housing program property for close to four years. In addition to VA grant funds to support program operations, Anka invested a great deal of their own funds into renovating the facility. They turned a rundown barn into a gym, developed private bedrooms and shower enclosures, and made a number of improvements to enhance the safety and functionality of the site.
The community also played a large role in helping get the program started. “We had volunteers out here from Women’s Life Chapter of Caro cleaning, doing laundry, and making toiletry kits. Home Depot donated a $5,000 gift card to the program which helped us purchase program supplies. The Piece Makers’ Quilt Group from the Church of God in Millington have volunteered to make quilts for all veterans that come into the program. The community and neighbors have been great and we can’t thank them enough!” exclaimed Dr. Nzinga Harrison, Anka’s Medical Director and Senior Vice President of East Coast Operations.
To thank the community for their support, acknowledge volunteers, and celebrate the opening of the program, the Anka Akron Program site will be holding an open house and BBQ June 13, 2013 at 2:00PM. The open house will include a program overview, staff introductions, property tour, special acknowledgements, and BBQ lunch. Service providers, local community groups and agencies, and members of the public are invited to attend.
If you would like to attend the open house, please see details below:
Date: June 13, 2013
Time: 2:00PM – 4:00PM
Location: 3258 Ringle Road, Akron, MI 48701
Contact Info: Ian McCormick, Program Administrator