March 15, 2018 - 4:54 pm
When veterans are in a bind, the Summerlin-based Kline Fund often lends a hand.
In 2017, the nonprofit saw its biggest outlay of money yet, $106,000, more than double the prior year’s $52,000 and triple the 2015 figure of $37,000, according to the group. It was established in 2012 and has aided an estimated 3,000 families.
While many veterans get help directly from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Kline Fund is able to step in immediately and pay rent, a housing deposit or a utility bill.
It contributes monthly to the United States Veterans Initiative and Shade Tree. The Kline Fund recently partnered with Michael’s Angel Paws to provide service dogs to two veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Many veterans come here (to the Las Vegas Valley) thinking of the weather,” said Morton Friedlander, treasurer of the Kline Fund. “They can’t take the cold. But they arrive thinking they’ll find a job and then the job doesn’t pan out.”
The Kline Fund is steered by a handful of veterans who volunteer. The help often comes out of their own pockets. In mid-January, for example, the Kline Fund learned of a 65-year-old veteran whose wife was walking 4 miles to and from the disability office.
“(Friedlander) arranged to personally pick her up and drove her around town to the different agencies to help get their issues resolved,” said board member Stephanie Helms.
The Kline Fund sells poppy pins to raise money. They bring in $30,000-$40,000 a year, and grant money and donations make up the rest of the fund’s income, Friedlander said.
Joseph Whacks, 62, was in the Army from 1973-80. He and his family followed his sister-in-law to Las Vegas in 2017 for a fresh start, but job opportunities were difficult to find.
Whacks packed the family, including his wife and three children, into their vehicle. It was home for a few nights, until they came up with a plan.
“It was tight. It wasn’t just us; it was us, our clothes and everything,” he said.
At the VA center, he learned about the Kline Fund through a representative of another nonprofit, U.S. Vets. The Kline Fund put the family up at Tuscany Suites and Casino for two weeks and, later, at Siegel Suites. The fund managed to get the $360 fee that Whacks’ wife, Ghowanda, needed to get her nursing credentials transferred from North Carolina to Nevada waived.
“We housed them for two weeks during the Christmas holiday until they could get on their feet,” Helms said.
Whacks got a job in lawn care, and the family is now in permanent housing. But he recalls how it almost didn’t happen.
“I was so blessed that someone was there to help us. I’m so grateful to (the Kline Fund),” he said. “I owe them everything.”
Contact Jan Hogan at email@example.com or 702-387-2949.
By the numbers
The Census Bureau reports that there were 21.8 million American veterans as of 2014, with roughly 10 percent of them women. Department of Veterans Affairs reports 8 percent of Nevadans are veterans. The Army is the largest branch of the military, making up roughly 36 percent of all active-duty personnel in 2015, according to the Department of Defense.
The Kline Fund began as an offshoot of the Jewish War Veterans Post 64, of which the late Edward Kline was a founder. Kline formed the organization along with other veterans to provide assistance to those in need. Kline died in 2011.