After a soft opening eight months ago, the Mt. Carmel Center of Excellence is on its way to becoming a one-stop resource for veterans and their families — with a behavioral health center under construction and plans for a nearby health-and-wellness center, as well as a veteran housing project in the works.
In addition to providing financial, educational, legal and counseling services at its main building at 530 Communication Circle, Mt. Carmel’s COO Bob McLaughlin said the nonprofit is partnering with Greccio Housing to provide 10 apartments for veterans across the street from the center. It’s also creating a relationship with the Cohen Veterans Network to expand behavioral health services at a building currently under construction at 565 Communication Circle.
For the health-and-wellness center, Mt. Carmel will most likely purchase a building on West Moreno Avenue, McLaughlin said.
“We started with just one building, and now have two covenanted — and now a third, which would expand us a few blocks,” he said. “We’re still in the negotiation process, but [we’re] planning to extend our wrap-around services and have the three elements of wellness – mind, body and spirit – at the campus,” he said.
Mt. Carmel’s annual budget is $1.2 million. It relies on a variety of revenue sources, said Moyra Hower, director of development at Mt. Carmel.
“We are so thrilled with how well we have done in our first year of fundraising,” she said. “We look at 2017 with a strategy to diversify our sources of revenue even further.”
Projected for 2017: Grant and foundation dollars will remain the organization’s main revenue stream at 45 percent; events and programs – including a golf tournament – will provide 15 percent; corporate giving will bring in 16 percent; and individual giving will provide 12 percent. The nonprofit expects to receive the remaining 12 percent from its fee-based services and company engagement.
“Mt. Carmel’s goal is to partner with corporations and individuals to increase [that] source of revenue,” Hower said.
Because founder Jay Cimino paid for Mt. Carmel’s initial building, the nonprofit didn’t carry out a capital campaign. But it still needs money for day-to-day operations and building overhead, McLaughlin said.
“Even though it’s not a pure capital campaign, we’re looking for sponsors to sponsor the building — with naming rights — to help sustain it,” he said.
The organization has raised about $600,000 in individual and corporate giving and received $532,000 in grants.
“About 80 percent of our funders are local, [but] we’ve also had some national funders,” McLaughlin said.
Since the center’s soft opening last March, Mt. Carmel has provided services for about 3,114 veterans and their family members, and has worked with an additional 1,961 through its Peer Navigators Program.
“The flow of people coming in — whether for social or transition services — has really picked up,” McLaughlin said. “It’s been really rewarding to see the energy that’s coming into the center and people wanting to work together. I think we’re on an accelerated curve as a nonprofit, with the real focus this year on counseling for wellness and transition services.”
It’s important for Mt. Carmel to remain relevant to veteran needs, said Joel Hamilton, director of operations at the center.
“Needs in the community right now will most likely be different in six months,” he said. “We have to continue to keep our ears grounded and be out in the community to make sure we’re providing services that are necessary.”
Thanks to state legislation known as the Colorado Veterans’ Service-To-Career-Pilot Program, Mt. Carmel is providing employment resources to veterans and their spouses, dependents and caregivers. The goal is to offer interview and resumé training and paid internships with community partners.
Last year, the Pikes Peak Workforce Center received $320,000 from the grant and partnered with Mt. Carmel to carry out career services.
Peer navigator Tony Hobbler said there are currently 36 in the program that continues through the end of June.
“I can help veterans of all eras,” he said. “I’m helping at least a dozen older veterans who have been out of the service for a while, individuals with no degrees and people with CPAs and master’s degrees.”
Through the internship program, veterans and family members work 20 to 29 hours a week for $10 an hour. He said three of his clients already have internships lined up at Red Leg Brewing Co., First Command Financial Planning and Catalyst Campus.
“The hope is to get them permanent employment or give them steps to permanent employment,” Hobbler said, who retired from the Army last December.
“What I like about Mt. Carmel is they say, ‘We’re here to help veterans’ and then do it,” he said. “What I also think is unique is that the center can provide the same services to veterans’ family members as they do to veterans.”
Jack Bookout spent 20 years in the Army as a telecommunications specialist and wanted to continue a career in information technology when he retired. However, he needed specific civilian certifications to get jobs, and the military wouldn’t pay for it because he was leaving for the private sector. Bookout said he found the solution at Mt. Carmel.
“They interviewed me to receive funding for the class, helped me with my resumé and introduced me to people,” he said. “They also helped me relax and realize what I was doing wrong during the transition process.”
Bookout said he found moving to civilian life to be nerve-wracking. It was all he’d ever known, and had a lot of questions that military veteran and Mt. Carmel peer navigator Jennifer Medved helped answer.
“Also being a veteran, she had so much knowledge about leaving the military and helped me deal with what was going to happen next,” he said. “I think Mt. Carmel is an invaluable resource to veterans, offering them everything they need as long as they’re willing to put in the effort.”