Veterans helping veterans is just one of the things that sets Project Help apart from other non-profits.
And it is what drew 90-year-old USAF veteran Eugene “Gene” Newman to Project Help and had him sign-on as a volunteer. He served in the military from 1949 to 1953. During the Korean War he was stationed at Kunsan where he worked as a staff sergeant and cryptographer with the 3rd Bomb Wing.
“Everyone that comes home from war is mixed up to some degree and usually it’s for a long while,” said Newman.
That’s why he chose to volunteer for a local organization that works one-on-one with military men and women. “Help can be just one phone call away,” he said, “because there’s always someone there ready to help.”
Project Help is an all-volunteer non-profit created to serve homeless veterans in northern New Jersey. Over the past four years the mission has been expanded to include such things as financial support (for qualified hardship cases) and legal assistance. Project Help has a vast array of partners – many of whom are veterans or veteran’s family members as well as other nonprofit organization. Combine we are able to cover just about every type of need our veterans and families face.
One of the major initiatives begun in 2018 is job/career placement as well as housing. A good many of the veterans that rely on Project Help are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Others suffer from disabilities that limit them in many ways, especially as it relates to working in the civilian world. An additional initiative undertaken by Project Help is to assist veterans with criminal records by helping them to successfully re-enter into freedom, by preparing them while incarcerated.
Volunteers are the life blood of Project Help and Newman brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and humor to the job.
He was born on June 9, 1930 and spent most of his life in New Jersey.
Two years after coming home from war he married the love of his life, Barbara Brock. They had four children and now have seven grandchildren. In 1962 the family moved to Parsippany.
Newman went back to school and earned an associate degree at NCE (now NJIT) then began working full-time as an engineer.
Engineering was his profession but he found his passion in the written word. In 1962, Newman began working as a part-time reporter and columnist. His first job was with The Citizen in Denville and later with the Record of Morris County and Neighbor News. He also wrote features and humor pieces as a freelancer for the New York Times and the New York News.
He was downsized as an engineer at Ingersoll-Rand in 1993 and as a journalist from Neighbor News in 2019 when the newspaper was sold to Gannett.
Ever resourceful Newman moved on to begin writing a blog. “I just wanted to continue writing,” he said.
Through the years – as time between jobs and family allowed – he worked at various volunteer jobs, such as writing news releases for the Red Cross, working with ESL students and doing kitchen work for Homeless Solutions a few times a year.
He lost his beloved wife, artist Barbara Newman, in April after a brief bout with Covid-19. And so with time and amazing energy he wants to reach out to veterans that are struggling. “I have the time now and I think I can make a difference,” said Newman.
If you need a smile today check out Newman’s blog: GeneNewmanImagineThat.com.