Fifty percent of the soldiers from the Greater Rochester, New York area who are serving or have served in recent conflicts will return with physical disabilities or the “invisible wounds” of Traumatic Brain Injury or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Many returning veterans face a potential “downward spiral” of isolation, unemployment and despair. In fact, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that one in four homeless people is an American Veteran.
OASIS Adaptive Sports was created to assist physically and psychologically-challenged veterans to reconnect and resume productive lives in society. The program offers a unique service to disabled and challenged veterans that decreases their isolation, reduces depressive symptoms, and helps them achieve a sense of independence and an improved quality of life. Sports are merely the vehicle to help these veterans make a positive return to mainstream society.
Since its inception in 2009, OASIS has been a primarily volunteer-run organization with grants, individual donations, and fundraisers being the major sources of revenue. OASIS contacted Grants4Good LLC in 2010 and the two have been working together ever since to raise the necessary funds to support eight different sports programs for approximately 60 veterans and their families each year. Funds are used to pay for sports equipment, events, rental fees, insurance, professional fees, and other program-related costs.
With the aid of grant funds, OASIS has been able to expand their sports offerings from four sports in 2010 to eight year-round sports and provide in-depth instruction and one-to-one long-term advocacy to veterans with various disabilities including post-traumatic stress disorder. Because these programs are provided to the veterans at no cost, grant funding is imperative to OASIS. Together, Grants4Good and OASIS develop a strategy and funding plan each year to meet the operational expenses required to run this unique and vital community program.
“Grants are extremely important. [Without them,] we would not be able to run as many programs, nor run them as effectively as we do today.” Vito Vasiliauskas, President, OASIS Adaptive Sports, Inc.