Military service sometimes comes at a personal cost for service members and their families. That’s why Endeavors, a San Antonio-based nonprofit organization, is dedicated to helping veterans and their families with personalized, comprehensive care.
Endeavors began in 1969 when five local churches banded together to create a network of social services. Today, the organization’s reach extends throughout Texas and into 18 states, with more than 600 permanent employees. While the organization also serves migrants, victims of disasters and other vulnerable populations, many of its programs address the needs of veterans and their families, including housing insecurity.
Endeavors’ approach to helping veterans transition into stable housing follows a rapid rehousing model that finds housing for clients first, then works on resolving the issues that led to housing instability. Each client is assigned a case manager, who works with them to develop an individualized plan.
“The game changer is the case management piece,” said Annie Erickson, Senior Director of Veteran and Community Services. “That gives each client an individual who is advocating for them, helping them meet their benchmarks on their individualized plan that they helped design, and empowers them to get to a place where they don’t return to homelessness.”
The case manager works with clients to address any obstacles they struggle with, including substance abuse and mental health.
“It really is a multi-layered process because as we start peeling back the onion of each individual client, and as the case manager builds trust, they start to discover all the issues that got them to that place that they may need assistance with,” Erickson said.
Endeavors provides financial literacy training and works with clients to help increase their income, whether it’s to look for a job, get skills training, or enroll in benefits.
“We empower the client to make choices. Nothing is required of them, we just work with them and encourage them to get to that next level,” she said.
Endeavors opened a new state-of-the-art facility for veterans in 2021 next to its headquarters in
Northwest San Antonio. The San Antonio Veteran Wellness Center provides holistic wellness services for veterans and their family members, including comprehensive mental and physical health services.
Veterans and their families can access mental health services in person or via telehealth. The center also offers health and wellness classes, an accessible gym, physical therapists, massage therapists, yoga and tai chi classes and even childcare.
“We have a very holistic approach to treating veterans,” Erickson said. “We’re trying to treat the whole individual and the whole family.”
Erickson is an SVP Fellow this year. She’s enjoying both the camaraderie and learning opportunities of the fellowship program.
“I’ve gotten to meet some new folks in the community, some new leaders at nonprofits large and small, and it’s been very rewarding,” she said. “I always take away something new every time we meet.”
She appreciated a recent session on data and how nonprofits can manage it to tell their stories.
“When you’re working with people it’s a little more challenging because their outcomes are subjective,” she said.
“It’s helpful to have that open discussion of how do you measure your outcomes, how do you know you’re being successful? It’s harder in our line of business.”
Erickson’s career path took her from banking to healthcare administration to government agencies, all with a goal of moving toward more purposeful work. She found it four years ago when she accepted a position at Endeavors as regional director for Supportive Services for Veterans and their Famillies (SSVF).
As the daughter of a veteran, it’s work she feels passionate about. “The fact that we have people who volunteer to keep us safe, they deserve everything in the world we can give them,” she said.