Mayor Nicola Smith works hard to give a greater quality of life to the people who live and work here. Here’s an example of how she brought together veterans and businesses to make connections with each other and to use resources that are a win-win for everyone.
She visited the car dealerships and learned they can’t find enough mechanics to work in their shops. In the past, she had been working on veterans’ initiatives. (She actually started working with veterans at Edmonds Community College and was involved with the Boots to Books Foundation. Edmonds Community College had raised $1M to train veterans.) She saw the connection between what the car dealerships needed in the way of labor and a large group of young veterans who are seeking a new career and could be trained as mechanics.
She set up a meeting as a roundtable summit for three car dealerships, college administrative staff and work force recruiters with representatives of Veterans groups in the Puget Sound to talk about how they could build a qualified and trained workforce for our dealerships. The dealerships expressed that they were willing to contribute money and resources to this project to get good mechanics. A dozen or so veteran organizations showed up for our Veterans’ Summit in January 2015. All told, about thirty veterans (representatives) showed up. She soon learned that all of these different veteran groups and organizations had never been invited to the table at the same time. Until then all of these groups had been working in silos.
Two years later, the summit is a one-stop shop for veterans. Now they have shared resources. And the Verdant Health Commission has become involved. Now Veterans have greater opportunity to live and work in Lynnwood where they can become successful. And it doesn’t stop with becoming a car mechanic. There are other career opportunities too.
One thing has led to another. Besides the Department of Veterans Affairs and WorkSource, both Snohomish County Human Services’ Veterans’ Assistance Program and the Disabled American Veterans meet clients in Verdant’s office as part of the One-Stop Shop for Veterans, which is open at Verdant every Tuesday and the first Wednesday of the month.
The Everett-based Department of Veterans Affairs has committed to coming down to Lynnwood and is working with WorkSource, Snohomish County Human Services’ Veterans’ Assistance Program, and the Disabled American Veterans to serve veterans throughout Snohomish County. Catholic Community Services has built housing for homeless veterans. The Verdant Health Commission has a community wellness center in Lynnwood, near City Hall where they’ve provided space for veterans to gather and find resources during the weekly one-stop shop. So far, they’ve worked with hundreds of veterans.
On the site provided by Verdant, the veterans started a Hero Café, where they have guest speakers and programs. It’s become a special place for veterans to meet and build camaraderie. They’ve already outgrown their current space and are raising money to build a larger place. It’s become more than a gathering place, and provides one-stop services for medical care and education. Now they’ve opened the second Veterans’ Museum in the state. The story doesn’t stop here. There is more to come.