Lifelong New Yorker Harold Tandjung is a veteran of the Marine Corps, a father of two, and an aspiring toy designer. Recently, a split from his spouse left Harold in need of a new place to live. He found an ideal apartment in Brooklyn, just minutes from the university where he studies to become an engineer. Unfortunately, Harold struggled to cover all of the costly move-in fees, and time was running short.
At the time, Harold was a student at BMCC, and Vice President of the school’s veterans club. “BMCC is so veteran friendly; they’re so helpful,” Harold says. Through the veterans club, Harold attended a presentation by Terrance Holliday, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Veteran Affairs, who told the students about the SSVF program. Harold quickly got into contact with RiseBoro’s program, and was connected to Alexander, a case manager and fellow veteran. “Alexander was great to work with,” Harold says, “very informative and clear with everything I needed to do to make the process work.” Harold was shocked that the program existed. “You’re in Bushwick, and you’d never know it, but right there in the basement is this beautiful office,” he says.
Just a few weeks after coming to RiseBoro, Harold moved into his new apartment. SSVF helped him pay for the first month’s rent and security deposit. Harold is thrilled with his new home, which is an easy commute from school and spacious enough to accommodate visits from his children. “The location is great for me,” Harold says. “It was a relief to find out that this help is available, and it made me feel a lot better because it’s also good for my kids.”
Harold is determined to help other veterans. He mentored fellow veterans at BMCC, and his experience with SSVF has inspired him to continuing lending a hand to his fellow vets. “It was really assuring to have some support. It makes me have more motivation to keep on doing things, especially with school,” Harold says. Asked what he learned from his experience with SSVF, Harold replied: “There are still organizations that help out the community, especially veterans. There are still organizations that care about veterans. When you think you’re out of luck, but you keep searching, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. As a veteran, the love you get back in return is immense. It’s rewarding.”