John DeBella supports the VMC once again this Thanksgiving!

We cannot wait to welcome one of our greatest supporters this Thanksgiving, John DeBella! Read the excerpt from article in the Metro about how the radio host will support our veterans!

Radio Host Readies for Turkey Drop

by AD Amorosi on

"On Tuesday, Nov. 25, between 6 and 9 a.m., the on-air personality and his partners, City Team Philadelphia, will broadcast live from LOVE Park. During the event, staff will also collect turkeys, coupons and donations at Giant Food Stores across the Tri-State area.

The annual drive benefits shelters, veterans groups, churches and families in need.

After the Turkey Drop, City Team will spend the next 24 hours delivering about 10,000 turkeys. Last year, the team delivered about 9,000 turkeys.

“I usually never estimate, I just pray,” DeBella said.

Some recipients will get fresh or frozen birds to cook themselves. Others will receive pre-cooked gobblers.

Decades ago, a newspaper ad, which read “$10 will buy meals for five people,” caught DeBella’s attention. He asked listeners to collect turkeys for the needy – first 100, then 500 the next year, and so on.

“I understand the drive to beat yesterday’s numbers, but it’s more than a feeling when you understand that over 25 percent of this city lives below the poverty line," said DeBella.

In the summer, DeBella also hosts a Radiothon – now in its eighth year – which benefits the Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service Center. This year, the fundraiser yielded $144,173; one of this year’s biggest contributors was Rod Stewart, who donated $10,000 to the cause. In its eight years, the event has raised nearly $650,000.

This week, DeBella will personally drop off more than 25 turkeys at the N. 4th Street Vets center.

“Even if you hate war, it’s about loving and caring for the warrior,” said DeBella.

DeBella said turkey donations are down this year, but is remaining optimistic.

“But there’s a funny thing that happens on the day of the event – people with the least always give the most."


Full article online HERE!

'#Rewrite the cardboard' campaign highlights Philly's formerly homeless vets


By Laura Benshoff,


Seeking to "flip the script" on homelessness the Veterans Multi-Service Center is encouraging "upwardly mobile" vets to share success stories through a social media campaign. It's called #RewriteTheCardboard, referring to the cardboard signs homeless people hold up asking for money.

Anthony Procaccini is one "success story" in progress. His family had been sleeping on friends' couches when his fiancee contacted VMC. "I have a low-paying job, [so] it was hard for me to come up with a security deposit," said Procaccini, who also has a seven-month old son. VMC helped Procaccini and his family get permanent housing in Upper Darby. "They're helping me get a better job," said Procaccini, who has construction experience but currently works the counter at a gas station.

He said he didn't feel prepared to transition out of the service in 1998. "You don't leave with any job skills except for how to shoot a rifle 500 to 1,000 feet.  Maybe I should have thought of that when I was 18," he said.

Procaccini is one of around 500 vets and their families placed into permanent housing each year by the VMC. In addition to the 50,000 veterans who are homeless on a given night, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 1.4 million more veterans like Procaccini are at risk of losing housing.

Breaking the cycle

VMC Board president Mustafa Rashed, who served in the US Navy during the 1990s (and serendipitously lived at the same base as Procaccini, they discovered), said the group works to provide vets with everything they need to build up a safety net and avoid ending up on the street. Support in housing, job training and placement help veterans "sustain what they've been given." That way, "they stay in [the system]."

VMC receives grant money from the US Department of Veterans Affairs to serve low-income veterans.

That can mean anything from chasing down discharge papers to changing the perception of veterans. Rashed said the familiar image of a veteran "with a sign that says 'I'll work for food' or something" should be turned on its head and replaced with a message of progress. "We're just taking something that's already out there and flipping it and saying this is what we think we can do with veterans," said Rashed.

View the complete article online here.

VMC on Talk Philly

Did you catch the VMC on Talk Philly?!

Talk Philly

In the countdown to our Veterans Day Telethon on CBS next Tuesday, November 11th from 3:00-8:00PM, our Director of Development, Debby Derricks, was interviewed by news anchor Ukee Washington on CBS3's Talk Philly earlier this week. 


During the segment, Debby shared how the VMC is able to help Veterans in a multitude of ways through "wrap-around" services and explained what it means to #RewriteTheCardboard. 


Don't worry if you missed it! You still can (and should!) watch the VMC segment here:


Veterans Day Telethon on CBS3

Tune in to Support Local Veterans this Veterans Day!




In only a few days,  we will host our first annual Veterans Day Telethon on CBS 3! Tune-in this Tuesday, November 11th from 3-8PM to see VMC staff, veterans that have been impacted by our  programs, and veteran supporters that recognize the difference the VMC is making in our community.




Remember to call 844-977-CBS3 (2273) on Veterans Day from 3-8PM in support of the VMC and local veterans.


Won’t be able to catch the Telethon on Veterans Day? You can still show your support by making a donation online HERE.


Ending Veteran Homelessness by “Rewriting the Cardboard”


As featured on by Zachary Rendin and Robert Dieckmann


It’s an all too familiar scene, a homeless or impoverished veteran standing on a street corner or by a busy intersection, holding a cardboard sign and pleading for help. Often the cardboard signs are inscribed with a request for work, food or money.

The Veterans Multi-Service Center is aiming to change that perspective with their on-going “Rewrite the Cardboard” campaign.

“It’s a cost effective way to motivate the public,” said Debby Derricks, the VMC director of development. “Everyone has a Sharpie and a piece of cardboard. I think if you ask most people, they would say they support veterans and this gives them the tools to show it.”

On Veterans Day (November 11), volunteers and VMC staffers will take to city streets, decked out in camouflage T-shirts with cardboard signs in hand. Their goal is to use the familiar imagery of the signs to promote services like housing placement and job assistance that the VMC offers to veterans.

Delvin Brinson (pictured above) knows how important connecting homeless veterans to these services can be.

“When I came here, I needed some help myself,” said Brinson. “The people who bring [in] people off the streets have to know what it’s like. [You] help them understand what you can offer them to help them.”

Brinson, an Army veteran, was homeless before he took advantage of the programs at the VMC. He eventually became employed as a driver for the VMC, completed their Microsoft training course and now also works as an outreach specialist.

“A couple times I had to keep myself from tears,” said Brinson as he described what it’s like getting a homeless veteran off of the streets. “Someone who has a place to live can go and close off the world for a while, relax and have peace of mind. That allows them to come up with ideas of how they want to be.” 

#RewritecardboardSN_rendinpnfall2014The beginning of 2014 marked “The Year of the Veteran” and the second year for the cardboard campaign. Last year, street teams were organized from a group of 12 people. This year, the number of volunteers is expected to rise to more than 30 people. This all feeds into one of the VMCs’ primary goals of ending veterans homelessness by the end of 2015.

“Everyone is flabbergasted by where we are today compared to where we were last year,” Derricks said of the increase in team members. 

The initiative is also growing through social media. Supporters are encouraged to make their own cardboard signs and tweet them @VM_Center with #RewriteTheCardboard.

VMC staff members prouTonydly sport their own signs around the office, each with their own take on what the campaign means to them.  Among them is Tony Chavez (pictured left), a cook at the facility, who has expressed his perspective through a sign that reads I provide food for the body and the mind.

“I cook healthy food with lots of vegetables to promote wellness,” Chavez said. “I also talk with a lot of the guys when they’re here. Knowledge sharing helps them to grow their minds as well.”

Cassondra Flanagan (pictured below) is an army veteran who now works at the VMC. Her sign reads, “I will advocate for all my fellow veterans.”


“Advocating, for me, is if everyone tells a bit of their own story,” Flanagan said. “Anybody who has served has probably lost friends and we all face different social issues. You tell your story and other people have a chance to tell their story.”

CassondraKeep your eye’s peeled in Philadelphia on Veterans Day for the VMC’s street teams. To find out more about Rewrite the Cardboard, visit the center’s Facebook page.

- Text and images by Bob Dieckmann and Zachary Rendin.

Anonymous - Philadelphia, PA

"I am the wife of a Viet Nam Veteran. My husband started going to PVMSEC 10 years ago for help. No mere words could ever express how much his life and in turn our family life has changed for the better in those years. I am and always will be grateful for the wonderful care he has received at the Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service Center & Education Center."

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