10 WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE
- DARRYL VINCENT -
UNITED STATES VETERANS INITIATIVE DIVISION DIRECTOR
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Darryl Vincent is the division director for the United States Veterans Initiative in Hawaii and California, the largest nonprofit provider in the country for homeless veterans.
Tireless advocate steps up for veterans
Darryl Vincent lives by the motto that the "best way to take away someone's dignity is to do something for them that they can do themselves." Vincent, recently promoted to division director for the United States Veterans Initiative in Hawaii and California after running the Hawaii sites since 2003, has a phone that rings "24-seven," by his own estimation. But it's for a good cause.
U.S. Vets is the largest nonprofit provider in the country for homeless veterans. It offers a variety of benefits and services, including temporary and low-income housing, food, clothing, job training, substance-abuse treatment and counseling. The success rate is impressive: 80 percent will have full-time employment when they finish the program.
In his effort to tackle Hawaii's homeless problem one person at a time, he sends a clear message about making the commitment to change your life. "If you come with us, you're going to work," said Vincent, a Marine Corps veteran and certified substance-abuse counselor who was a clinical supervisor at the Institute for Human Services for three years before joining U.S. Vets.
A budget of $1.9 million this fiscal year will help about 300 people. Three buildings in Kalaeloa house 98 veterans at any given time. But Vincent, 39, said that U.S. Vets wants to get all who have served in the military (combat experience is not necessary to qualify as a veteran) and need assistance back on their feet so they can live and work on their own.
"This wasn't something I set out to do in life," he reflected. "It's just a passion."
Which may explain why state officials asked Vincent earlier this year to manage Paiolu Kaiaulu, the new homeless shelter for people living on Leeward Coast beaches. Of course, he agreed. "We saw it as a way to serve families and give back to the state," he said.
"Darryl has single-handedly made the veterans project work, and has made this Waianae project work, and that was no small feat," said fellow U.S. Vets employee Michael Ullman. "Darryl's just a person who works incredibly hard, has an extreme amount of integrity and sets an excellent model for his staff. He expects a lot, but he doesn't expect anything he doesn't give."
And it sounds like he's just beginning.
"I think we're good at providing the services, but we need to start finding affordable housing out here," Vincent said of his future goals. "It's almost a crime for someone to serve their country and then sleep on the street."
Choosing the 10
In a daily countdown, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin is profiling 10 people who have made a difference in Hawaii during the past year.
These are people who worked in any field --community service, education, politics, law, labor, medicine, science, business, sports, entertainment, the arts -- to make a difference. Some fought controversial battles in public.
All that matters is that each, to the one, had a devotion to their cause that made a profound impact on Hawaii.
The 10 for 2007
» Dec. 22: John Garibaldi, Superferry
» Dec. 23: Isaac Hall, attorney
» Dec. 24: Deborah Zysman, Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii
» Dec. 25: Jennifer Kishimori, CatFriends
» Dec. 26: Lea Ok Soon Hong, Trust for Public Lands
» Dec. 27: Jaimie Kahale, Life Foundation
» Dec. 28: Moses Kalei Nahonoapiilani Haia III, Native Hawaiian Legal Corp.
» Dec. 29: Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian Airlines CEO
» Dec. 30: Darryl Vincent, United States Veterans Initiative
» Dec. 31: Colt Brennan, U.H. Quarterback