Chance meeting in Washington D.C. connects #ZealTheLove with local homeless veterans

Photo courtesy of Zeal Credit Union Preparing to serve a hot meal to homeless veterans are Zeal Credit Union team members, from l. to r., Beverly Outland, Bryan Feldpausch, Jennifer Shelton, Mariah Brown, Tiffany Sweet and Olivia Snyder.

Photo courtesy of Zeal Credit Union
Preparing to serve a hot meal to homeless veterans are Zeal Credit Union team members, from l. to r., Beverly Outland, Bryan Feldpausch, Jennifer Shelton, Mariah Brown, Tiffany Sweet and Olivia Snyder.

By MARGARET BLOHM
For the Sunday Times

It’s a small world. Just ask Nadine Jones, founder of Love a Michigan Vet Project which assists local veterans in need.

Jones, who works as a flight attendant when not taking graduate classes at University of Michigan-Dearborn, is no stranger to travel. While attending a conference in Washington, D.C., she shared a room with two other Michiganders, both of whom work for Zeal Credit Union.

“I was impressed when they told me how engaged their credit union is with non-profits in the Detroit area,” Jones said. “So I decided to visit their headquarters in Livonia and let them know about the work we’re doing with veterans. They were very receptive.”

Jones founded Love a Michigan Vet Project three years ago after spending two years with Michigan AmeriCorps helping service veterans.

In addition to holding special events throughout the year to help area veterans, Love a Michigan Vet provides a hot meal every month for homeless veterans at one of four area shelters in the Detroit area. This requires finding sponsors and volunteers to cover the costs and serve the meals.

“After meeting Nadine in 2017, we hosted our first meal with Love A Michigan Vet Project because we felt strongly about the work she and her organization were doing,” Marketing Manager Bryan Feldpausch said.

Zeal’s marketing department recently stepped up again to help as part of the credit union’s #ZealTheLove initiative which encourages employees to work together to support the charities they feel most passionate about.

The marketing team was so inspired by the first dinner, that they decided to host a second meal. They worked together to raise more than $700 by hosting a hot dog BBQ lunch for employees and a Krispy Kreme doughnut sale. It was enough to feed more than 85 homeless veterans a hot, hearty meal during a recent monthly dinner at Emmanuel House in Detroit.

“I appreciate everything they did. It’s nice to see local businesses truly get involved,” Jones said. “Not only did Zeal provide everything we requested, they helped serve, talk with veterans and gave them fun items including Zeal T-shirts which they loved.”

Jones said Zeal also participated in the project’s female Veterans Standown event at UM-D, where more than 250 female veterans received assistance.

“Nadine reflects our credit union’s core values of character, empathy, and passion. Seeing the difference she makes for homeless veterans in our community is the reason why Zeal Credit Union continues to support her initiatives,” Feldpausch said.

What began as a chance meeting between three Michiganders in Washington, D.C., resulted in an opportunity for area veterans to become recipients of #ZealTheLove.

To learn about #ZealTheLove, visit ZealTheLove.com for additional stories and community partnerships.