Single Introduction Touches Off String of Contacts Benefiting Local Veterans

Veteran Northeast Outreach Center's Gail Hewins, Ed Mitchell and John Ford with 411 Cares Co-Founder Dee O'Neill, Veteran Northeast Outreach Center's Rocco Vandermerwe, and Daphnee Alva from Tufts Health Plan. (Courtesy photograph.)

Sometimes, it really is about who you know.

An introduction this spring put John Ford of Veterans Northeast Outreach Center in touch with Dee O'Neil, co-founder of 411 Cares. That, in turn, led to other meetings and resulted in thousands of lunches and other services for veterans.

“We started talking, and it became clear she could help us with an immediate need for food for some of the veterans we serve,” Ford explained. “She started connecting us with all kinds of different resources and the relationship has blossomed since then.”

O'Neil, who co-founded 411 Cares with Michael Malvers, put the organization in touch with Daphnee Alva of Tufts Health Plan. Alva, a member of Tufts Health Plan’s Senior Care Options team, works with residents over 65 who are eligible for both Medicare and MassHealth, has helped create care packages that include a mask and hand sanitizer, donate face masks and shields to local nursing homes and provide gift cards from area grocery stores.

Lunches for veterans came from yet another contact stemming from that original meeting. We Care Charity of Salem, N.H., prepared the food.

“Dee, Daphnee and We Care Charity helped us during one of our most difficult times,” said Ford, who noted the pandemic caused numerous business closures that directly affected many veterans.

Serving Essex, Middlesex and Barnstable Counties in Massachusetts and Rockingham and Hillsborough Counties in New Hampshire, Veterans Northeast Outreach Center provides basic food and housing, advocacy, counseling, peer support, case management, employment and education to veterans and their families.

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