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Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014

Heroes of the Week: Vets 76 Volunteers

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Vets 76 (4222 W. Capitol Drive), a nonprofit veterans organization founded by a group of Vietnam veterans, integrates traditional and nontraditional approaches to create a holistic educational and healing program available to male and female veterans and their families and spouses, as well as widows and widowers of veterans. This entirely volunteer-run organization focuses on veterans within Milwaukee County and some nearby counties, but as it grows, Vets 76 is looking to cover a 100-mile radius beyond Milwaukee.

Vets 76’s traditional programming includes group meetings, educational classes and addressing homelessness, veterans’ benefits, employment and housing. Less traditional programming includes meditation, yoga, tai chi and its “Move Out” exercise class, and holding forums to help bridge the gap between communities and their veterans. But what really sets Vet 76 apart is its focus on the visual and performing arts. Azeeza Islam, Vets 76 chief operations officer, has been a part of the performing arts scene for more than 40 years and is working on integrating a large variety of arts opportunities (beyond poetry readings) for veterans.

Islam says that Vets 76’s growth is possible due to its dedicated volunteers. “They’re so important,” Islam says. “Everybody that has come through so far has given themselves 100% to whatever the cause or need was.”

Vets 76 is looking for a volunteer coordinator, as well as donated space for larger fundraisers. Volunteers are also needed for its monthly Flapjack Breakfasts held at Applebee’s locations throughout Milwaukee. Monetary donations and donations of general office supplies, computers, an industrial-sized shredder and furniture would be greatly appreciated. To learn more, visit vets76.org, their Facebook page, or contact Islam at 414-431-9512..

Vets 76’s next Fundraiser Flapjack Breakfast will be held Saturday, March 1, from 8-10 a.m. at Bayshore Town Center’s Applebee’s. Tickets can be purchased for $7 at the door, by calling 414-431-9509 or by emailing veterans76@gmail.com.