Perry Mandera Receives Award from A Safe Haven
A Safe Haven, a non-profit dedicated to helping people transition out of homelessness, recently celebrated its 25-year anniversary. The event, which took place in Chicago, was attended by notable persons and individuals related to the area and the organization’s ongoing work. One individual in attendance who bears special recognition was Perry Mandera, founder of The Custom Companies Inc. Due to his work to support the non-profit, the transportation company CEO was one of the few people to be honored with an award at the event, demonstrating the organization’s appreciation for his extensive help over the years. Read on for more on the non-profit and the philanthropist.
Perry Mandera founded The Custom Companies Inc. in 1986 following a tour of service in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. The founder’s time in the military not only helped cement his commitment to serving others, it also gave him his first exposure to working in transportation. This experience stemmed from his work operating trucks and transporting troops and equipment in the Marines. In public comments, he often looks back at that time in his life as formative, not only teaching him the basics of a field in which he would later thrive, but forming bonds that connected him to his fellow service members throughout his life.
Upon his return from the marines, the founder engaged in a number of different pursuits beyond his main company. One of these pursuits was an interest in politics, which he satisfied when he ran for Republican Ward Committeeman for the 26th Ward in Chicago. He was elected to the post and served in the position from 1984-1988. At the time, he was the youngest person to ever be elected to the position.
A Safe Haven was founded in 1994 by Neli Vazquez-Rowland and Brian Rowland. The couple, which formerly worked in the financial industry, first began their foray into non-profit work by purchasing a building in Chicago to rent out to people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Once that program met with success, the founders realized that there was a great need to be filled in the area. From that small beginning they were able to expand their services into the full-scale foundation that exists today.
The organization defines itself as a “social enterprise that helps people aspire, transform and sustain their lives as they transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency with pride and purpose.” Rather than aiming at the symptoms of the issue, A Safe Haven implements policies so that each individual can overcome the root causes of their experience with homelessness. This work takes a look at the overall picture of a person’s life and strives to address multiple issues at once. The model used by the organization is intended to be scalable so that it can assist more and more people in need over time.
The event to celebrate the non-profit’s 25th anniversary served not only to recognize important people in the organization, but also to draw attention to fundraising efforts which have contributed to the organization’s mission. The event also had a driving goal of raising awareness and support for Chicago’s homeless population. In the lead-up to the event, the non-profit was able to collect over $300,000 in pledges to go towards sponsorships. Contributions from the more than 500 people in attendance are still being tallied, but include proceeds from a silent auction, pledges, and online donations.
In addition to fundraising, the organization worked to honor people who had made sizable shows of support to its mission. The Gala Chair’s, a past honoree himself, commented on the opportunity to bring attention to the work done by upstanding people in the greater Chicago community. This included Perry Mandera, who was singled out for his efforts to raise awareness of homelessness amongst the veteran community. The speaker went on to “Invite and encourage everyone to continue to support A Safe Haven, and our collective efforts to help our City lead the nation in helping heal root causes and ending homelessness in our back yard.”
Efforts by Founder
In comments upon receiving the award, the transportation company founder turned attention back to the important work of the organization itself. “Many people don’t know that A Safe Haven has over 800 veterans a year pass through their doors,” said Mandera. “They are a great resource to use when you may be looking to hire a veteran. I can’t say enough about A Safe Haven and all of the fantastic things they do for so many needy people.” He also noted the important contributions by the non-profit founders and noted how the Chicago community would benefit from their efforts for another 25 years.
The Custom Companies Inc. CEO is no stranger to charitable work and often engages in such efforts through his company’s philanthropic organization, Custom Cares. That work has seen him donate to families in need throughout his community to help pay for tuition, food, and housing costs. He’s also engaged in efforts to donate warm clothing when it was needed most. The CEO has also used his company’s resources to transport items when possible to make a positive impact in the lives of many. Past efforts of this nature have seen the company assist in relief work in the wake of natural disasters.
The recent event by A Safe Haven helped shine a light on the organization’s efforts to help those struggling with poverty and homelessness in the Chicago area. These efforts have helped many people get back on their feet and make progress in their lives that might otherwise be difficult to achieve. The organization’s work with veterans has been a focal point of Perry Mandera, who not only helps to support the non-profit in its efforts, but engages in additional charitable giving through his company and beyond. A look at the ways in which this type of giving manifests is instructive for understanding current efforts to address some of society’s most difficult issues.