LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – There’s a new effort to help local veterans. This time, with a twist. The main focus? Women.
The women who have served our country were the center of attention today at Trinity Church in Lansing.
The goal was to connect them with resources like housing, education, jobs, and even clothing.
Stephanie Penn made this event all possible. She served in the marines many years ago, so she understands firsthand the struggles women veterans face.
She believes female vets are often overlooked which is why she’s been organizing Stand Downs all across Michigan for the past 15 years. This was the first time she’s brought this event to the Lansing area.
“Most women, in general, are private, we’re survivors, we try to figure things out on our own,” Penn said.
Penn, or “Chef Stef” as most in the community call her, says this is now her life’s work. She’s decided on her own time and dime to bring nonprofits and female vets together.
“You know, it’s cool when a sistah comes to a stand down and she walks out after finding out she can have her home refinanced. It’s cool when you hear she’s not homeless,” said Penn.
Whether it be resources for housing, education, and clothes on their backs, Chef Stef says these Stand Downs are all about using her connections with nonprofits like ‘Disabled American Veterans’ or ‘Soul for Vets’ into a job fair setting. That way, all these organizations are under the same roof and available for vets in need.
“I came out here and got some free shoes just because I’m a veteran, I think that’s fantastic. People want to take care of their veterans and think sometimes instead of just coming out and accepting that, we kind of just hide out,” said attendee Summer Robertson.
Robertson is just one of many veteran’s who got some help today. Some of those who came out to help Heather Harig who is also vet. Harig served in the air force and also works for ‘Disabled American Veterans.’
“1 in 4 women are sexually assaulted in the military,” says Harig. “Having resources available for women in the Michigan area will be super helpful in that regard.”
Chef Stef says this operation will continue as long as there is a need, and she says she will never stop fighting the good fight.
“We’re looking for help, not just pity, we’re not pathetic. No, we’re women, who wore the uniform, in all branches, and every human being needs additional help,” Penn said.
Chef Stef wants to have more events like this in the Mid-Michigan area. Any non-profit’s or veteran’s who would like to help in her efforts, here is a link to contact Chef Stef directly.