Two organizations, community collaborate to help local Veteran in need

A local veteran in need now has the means to get around, thanks to a generous community and the collaboration of two area organizations. After being restricted to traveling by bicycle for far too long, Ira Graham was handed the keys to a “new to him” vehicle.

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The gesture, a life-changing event for Graham, was accomplished by the local non-profit Jake’s Journey Home, the Gilmore Hero Foundation, and the generous Folsom community, which continues to support area organizations that help others.

“Jake’s Journey Home has walked hand in hand with our veteran, Ira, for the last three-plus years, to move him from the trails of Folsom and into a life of sustainability and success,” shared Jeanne Shuman, founder and president of the organization. It came about after her son Jake was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident in 2019. Prior to his death, Jake was known in and around the Folsom community for his empathy, generosity, and humility. He spent countless hours and efforts giving back to those in need, especially veterans who found themselves in tough times.

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“Ira has done some hard work, first and foremost placing his trust in us. He is housed and working full-time,” Shuman said. “Each entity along the way believed in our mission of giving someone a chance. Here we are at the final leg of this life path change – transportation.”

Since embarking on this journey with Graham, Jake’s Journey Home has been steadfastly committed to guiding him towards a life of sustainability and success, starting from being homeless along the trails of Folsom to helping him secure stable housing and full-time employment.

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As Shuman pointed out, the latest milestone in Graham’s journey highlighted the critical role transportation plays in achieving independence and stability. Through Jake’s Journey Home’s bike program, Ira was originally equipped with a bicycle, enabling him to commute from Sacramento housing to his workplace via his own two wheels and the light rail system. After demonstrating determination, it was apparent that Graham was committed to his job and overall success.

Recognizing the significance of transportation assistance for veterans, Shuman and the team from Jake’s Journey Home reached out to the Gilmore Hero Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting veterans in need. Chris Whitaker, the Director of the Gilmore Hero Foundation, quickly embraced the opportunity to collaborate and streamline the process for Graham’s benefit, to get him safely back on the road so he can continue to succeed.

The Gilmore Hero Foundation specializes in refurbishing donated vehicles and handling the necessary paperwork for registration, ensuring that veterans like Graham have access to reliable transportation. Shuman pointed out how the partnership between Jake’s Journey Home and the Gilmore Hero Foundation illustrates the power of collective action in effecting positive change in the lives of veterans.

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“What an incredible journey for Ira, and it’s wonderful to see the collaboration between Jake’s Journey Home and Gilmore Hero making such a difference in his life,” Shuman added. “Transportation can indeed be a significant barrier, and it’s heartening to hear about organizations like The Gilmore Hero Foundation stepping in to help.”

Jake’s Journey Home is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit, community-based volunteer organization that focuses on “assisting unhoused veterans and community members in a life path change through wrap-around support services,” with the simple mission of “Connect. Respect. Assist.”

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For more information about Jake’s Journey Home, visit www.vetsjourney.com including details of their 2024 annual benefit dinner at the Folsom Community Center on August 16.

Photo: Chris Whitaker, the Director of the Gilmore Hero Foundation and Jeanne Shuman, Founder and President of Jake’s Journey Home present Ira Graham, a local Veteran, with the keys to his own truck after years of being without transportation. 

Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan