Homeless veteran’s story inspires man to create non-profit for vets in need

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The story of a Memphis veteran living out of his car is inspiring people all across the country to take action for other vets in need.

WREG first told you about disabled Marine veteran Lonnie Whitfield earlier this week. Recently, a real estate broker from Florida promised to find him free housing for a year.

Now others are working to make sure others do not end up like Whitfield.

After WREG’s stories aired, Whitfield said the Memphis VA has stepped up to help him. They are putting him in a hotel for four days. He had previously been told by them that they didn’t have any vouchers to help him.

James Knowles of Memphis also knew he had to do something after hearing Whitfield’s story, so he started The Love Project. The Facebook group already has close to a thousand members.

Knowles is working to get a non-profit status. His goal is to have a network of hotels and restaurants that will offer vouchers to vets in need and give people the opportunity to donate clothing and hygiene products.

“We want these restaurants and corporations to step up and say, ‘This is not going to hurt us to step up and feed a veteran for one day,’” Knowles said.

Knowles said when the project is up and running, veterans in need can apply online. They will be screened and then recommended to businesses offering help.

As far as Whitfield goes, the Florida real estate broker is using connections in Memphis to try and find him free housing for a year.

She said she has been overwhelmed by the amount of people wanting to help.

“I’ve got a gentleman that offered up, for furniture, $1,500,” she said.

Both Caliendo and Knowles said they are just eager to make a difference and bring some good out of one man’s struggle.

“Somebody just needs to get up and do something,” Caliendo said.

To learn more about The Love Project, click here.

To donate to Lonnie Whitfield, click here.

6 comments

  • Penny

    It is funny to me how all these people and companies are so willing to help this one and don’t know the full story because the news don’t want to publish it. Give him a drug test. Will he pass? There were groups willing to help and he turned them down. So are all these people and companies going to help the rest of the homeless veterans in the Mid South more so all the veterans in the Mid-South Go talk to alpha and omega.

  • jason

    Of course Penny he turned it down because he doesn’t want help he wants a handout, free! If he wanted help he would have went to a shelter that offers help, Alpha Omega the largest vertan supporters in Memphis! As I’ve said if they follow him they will see. He live with people. Just follow like yall follow everyone else with traffic control. II’m glad folks are willing to step up and hell because we don’t see this often but it sadness me folks who really need helpaare not helped but yet those who learn the system get over. I just really feel bad for laid off folks who don’t know where their next meal will come from yet we help those who won’t help themselves. Reason he doesn’t want the other programs and those Alpha omega offer because they will make surr he’s taken care of, rules will need to be followed and it’s not just your way. No drugs or nothing. Just sad! The lady who had mold in her apartment with 3 kids why no one helped her? We were able to get her in a program but still no one helped this mother who lost her spouse to cancer and had to work two jobs.

  • canadianwhiskeygirl

    penny and jason, why all the negatIvIty about thIs man??? do u PERSONALLY KNOW HIM??? If u know somethIng wreg Isnt tellIng, man up( If ur not afraId of repurcussIon) and tell what u know personnally about thIs man!!! shut up or put up!!

    • jason

      Know of him, yes sure do! And know where he live that’s how I know he’s not homeless. But yall feed into it. Just know when you need help will they be there for you? Your tax dollars be there for you? Those who really need it go unnoticed. Wht didn’t he accept the help offered? Yea nuff said

      • Ima

        Jason…look up the Knowles guy on shelby county criminal/general court…dude is a deadbeat dad and a convicted felon…and now they find out the veteran has a active warrant…this is crazy

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