Collection Company Aids Returning GIs

Automated Waste Disposal (AWD), Danbury, Conn., is collecting more than just trash. As America's reservists leave their homes to provide strength and force, AWD is providing financial support to many reservists' families left at home.

After watching a “60-Minutes” episode featuring a mother struggling with the economic cutbacks because of her husband's call to active duty, Jim Gallante, president of AWD, and his wife, Roseanne, decided to found Homeland Aid and Assistance. AWD initially contributed $200,000 for grants, and the local community has raised additional funds. The nonprofit corporation's goal is to address the financial needs of reservist families throughout Connecticut by allotting $1,500 per family.

Since its public announcement at a Hartford press conference on April 9, the corporation's five-member board of directors, led by President Roseanne Gallante, has been meeting regularly to consider grant applications.

Dave Dunleavy, the corporation's secretary, says AWD also has received donations because of TV, radio and newspaper coverage.

According to Dunleavy, when considering who to award funding to, the board evaluates: the difference in pre-deployment pay against current reservist pay; a letter from the employer stating that the reservist is no longer drawing a salary; the remaining parent's need to leave work in order to care for children; and whether children's educational needs and the necessities of life (such as mortgage payments, utility bills, daycare, etc.) cannot be met.

Although the war in Iraq is over and the city is rebuilding itself, Dunleavy says, “the foundation will remain active until the need is no longer there.” The foundation will continue to focus on the reservists as they return home. “Some families have still been living on meager incomes for months and will need help getting back on their feet, even though the breadwinner may return home,” he says.