Arts Council for Long Beach Awards Grant to HomeFront Rising

Veterans Theater Group Coming to Long Beach


The Strindberg Laboratory, an innovative nonprofit that presents professional theater workshops and plays for disadvantaged populations, has agreed to partner with us in Long Beach. That means more opportunities for veterans to collaborate with actors, writers, directors and producers who have valuable experience in the creative arts, and to commune with peers in the process. Yesterday I had an online discussion with Strindberg co-founder Michael Bierman, who explained all veterans have a story to tell, and are encouraged to participate. People Magazine recently published a long piece about the work Michael and his wife Meri Pakarinen have been doing with California inmates. Check out a portion of the chat I had with Michael, and then scroll down to see a video report by People correspondent Tiare Dunlap:

Introducing HomeFront Long Beach

Jeff__John_and_Brittney_cropped.jpgJeff Norman. RotorAct Long Beach president Brittney Olaes and John Bollinger

Renaissance man John Bollinger and I spoke last night at the semimonthly RotorAct Long Beach Happy Hour Meeting. It was quite a privilege to spend time with young movers and shakers who never stop making their city a better place. We shared our plans to establish an outpost in Long Beach where we’ll run a variety of programs with nonprofit partners including Rock to Recovery, The Strindberg Laboratory and Global Business Incubation. I met John in November when we both participated in the Emerald Veterans Business Summit at Loyola Marymount University. It was a conference for veterans who own or plan to own their own businesses. John is an architect, general contractor and construction engineering professor who helped launch the Long Beach World Trade Center and Port of Long Beach. We’ll be lining up partners and funding in the coming months in a variety of ways including our Night of Hope and Dreams, a tribute to Bruce Springsteen at the Brass Lamp Bar in Long Beach on March 18, the night before Springsteen’s last of three concerts in Los Angeles.

Ricardo Reyes, HomeFront Rising Standout, Takes Position With CA Department of Veterans Affairs

Some of the best veterans’ advocates operate in the nonprofit sector to accomplish what they couldn’t possibly do if they were to work for a government agency. But we certainly need as many talented and dedicated public servants as possible to address the needs of veterans, and it’s with that thought in mind that we wish the very best to our own Ricardo “Rick” Reyes, who has just been appointed Deputy Secretary of Minority Veterans at the California Department of Veterans Affairs. Gov. Brown made the announcement on Thursday. Rick was our Director of Military Outreach in 2009 and 2010, and still serves on our Advisory Board. He’s a remarkable Marine veteran who once went undercover posing as a homeless veteran to find out how veterans are treated in shelters. He’s now going to bring his passion to Sacramento and offer his services on a statewide level. The governor couldn’t have made a better choice.

Veteran Fired For Disability Bounces Back

Dan_solo.jpgAlthough he sometimes needs to walk with the aid of a cane, Navy veteran Dan Tapia has excelled in the food and beverage industry for many years. After a high-end Beverly Hills restaurant fired him because the cane was supposedly off-putting to patrons, Dan decided to establish his own beer and wine garden in Long Beach. His plan is to hire mostly veterans, including those who are disabled. While the restaurant is in its final phase of construction, Dan is keeping very busy. Last Sunday he demonstrated his mixology skills and walked away the winner of a prestigious holiday cocktail competition, and this Saturday he'll be at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles participating in a panel discussion featuring entrepreneurs who are rising stars in their respective fields. In the two video clips below, Dan discusses his passion for running restaurants, his firing and how that iniquity inspired him to launch his business.

Operation Home for Heroes

Female veterans are underserved by nonprofits in general, so it’s good to see our partners at Carry Me Productions have come up with a plan to house women who served in the military. Please check it out and consider supporting this effort. 


PSA for Emerald Veterans Business Summit

The aim of the conference is to help veterans establish/grow their businesses. It'll be held Nov. 20-21 at Loyola Marymount University. Check out our PSA:


Conference and Support for Entrepreneurial Veterans

From what I hear, the ubiquitous job fairs held for veterans lead to relatively few hirings. In that sense, veterans seeking work tend to endure the same plight that vexes the rest of the unemployed population: they’re lucky to land an interview let alone secure a livelihood. So the Emerald Veterans Business Summit on Nov. 20-21 at Loyola Marymount University offers a much-needed breath of fresh air. USAF veteran-mentor-speaker-author Anthony Morgan told me via Skype this morning that attendees will be "showing up to be an entrepreneur…to network and to tap into the resources that [conference organizer] GBI brings to the table…listening to keynote speakers [who will] show you how to get from point A to point Z, and to make the transition from veteran to entrepreneur a lot smoother.”

Another distinguishing characteristic of the conference is that the general public is encouraged to experience it as an opportunity to establish or nurture win-win ventures. For example, a nonveteran partner in a veteran-owned business is entitled to advantages - such as low-interest loans and first dibs on government contracts - that are generally available to only veterans. Understanding that veterans actually welcome such give-and-take can be liberating for those who might otherwise be reluctant to “exploit” former service members.

Admission for veterans (and Loyola students/faculty/staff) is free, and $15 for all others. For more info or to register, click here.


Operation Mas Launches in Arizona

All of us at HomeFront Rising are as thrilled as a schoolgirl on prom night to be working with the multi-talented Carolyne Mas. We’re developing a 38-acre retreat and career training facility in Pearce, Arizona where veterans can de-stress and rejuvenate in a healthy environment. Donations are humbly requested. Just had a little Skype chat with Carolyne about what’s coming:

Pope Francis Reaches Out to Our Neighbors

Individuals from nearby homeless shelters who came to our headquarters yesterday were shocked when they were given the opportunity to engage in dialogue with Pope Francis who spoke with them via satellite from the Vatican. The exchange was part of a special edition of ABC’s 20/20 scheduled to air Friday night.

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