September 10 was an evening to remember on the Connor Green at Sussex County Community College. The sky was blue, the air was cool and the excitement of the crowd was contagious as Project Help unveiled its Mobile Closet, a repurposed school bus designed to aid local veterans in need.
Project Help, founded by Executive Director Sandy Mitchell, is working to assist the more than 6,000 homeless and many more thousands at risk veterans in New Jersey.
“This is a national disgrace and it is our mission to change these statistics one veteran at a time,” said Mitchell. “We have to get the message out that veterans, who gave so much, must be on the top of the list for assistance. We need all hands on deck to make it happen. Real action, not talk is needed.”
The conversion of the old yellow bus was a two-year long labor of love for Mitchell and the community of volunteers and contributors that made the vision a reality.
The concept was simple - a vehicle that could bring clothing, accessories and services to veterans trying to find a job and assimilate back into civilian life.
The interior of the bus was rebuilt with clothes racks, cabinets and drawers - like a huge closet - and the outside was wrapped in a patriotic design.
One of the uses of the mobile closet would be to bring the bus out in advance of college career fairs and job fair events filled with free interview appropriate clothing and shoes. Also aboard the bus whenever possible there would be a professional hairdresser and makeup artist plus volunteers with laptops could help write resumes.
“Now we need the serious financial support of the community to keep supplies available and keep the bus on the road,” Mitchell said.
She estimated it would cost about $7,500 a year for bus maintenance, insurance and gas.