Hope For The Warriors® is always impressed and honored when local military supporters reach out to involve us in their supportive community. We were recently contacted about a local networking group in the Dallas area led by professionals Ryan Holloway, Crystal D’Angelo, and Randy Watkins. The goal of their group, Veterans in Business, is to unite the pool of veterans looking for work in the Dallas community with local veteran-run businesses and entrepreneurs.
The group sees themselves as a conduit; trying to connect veterans while also helping local businesses prosper through this exposure will allow veterans to work with the population they want–other veterans!
The group was started by Ryan Holloway, a Marine veteran, who organizes the group of over 400 local businesses professionals, veterans in transition and representatives from local nonprofits. Ryan met our very own Gus Cabarcas at the Dallas Veterans Resource Center and invited Gus to speak on behalf of Hope For The Warriors®. Before Veterans in Business, Ryan was an ambassador for the US Veterans Chamber of Commerce, which is what eventually led to the creation of the monthly Veterans in Business meetings. Ryan and another ambassador at the time were both hosting monthly networking meetings for veterans, so they took it upon themselves to rebrand the approach through monthly lunches in the north Dallas area and Veterans in Business was born.
|Veterans in Business Members Present Hope For The Warriors® a Check Donation|
Ryan talks about how his background led him to his advocacy and involvement connecting local veterans to employment opportunities:
For me, I got out of the Marines back in 2002. I was recalled for a little bit, but at the time the job market was pretty rough and it took me a long time to find my way. I was working in different companies in corporate America, but there wasn’t anything out there for veterans locally as far as I was aware, so I wanted us all to work together through a grassroots connection. I never thought there was just one group out there doing everything for everyone, so it was a void we realized. We all want to work with veterans. I just like being around veterans. I view this as my “giving back” and like knowing at the end of the day that we’re getting veterans hired and getting the word out. We’re there as a resource helping the veterans land on their feet that much quicker.
The group is comprised solely of volunteers. It has no funding and all speakers and trainers are donated. Each organizer has a full time job outside of Veterans in Business; Crystal is a real estate agent who has worked extensively with veterans, Randy mortgages many home loans for veterans, and Ryan consults in the employee benefits and health insurance industry. They are all very aware of the gap in services to returning veterans, and, as Crystal says, they have a unique approach that sets them apart:
We get feedback that makes us unique. We come across as very welcoming. We have guys that just came back, completely in transition, they don’t know who to talk to so it’s nice for them to come in and hear someone. It’s a very relaxed environment that we want to come back to. They connect to us. It’s a nice environment for them to feel they have a place to come to once a month.
Ryan adds, “We get in what we all contribute.”
And it seems their contributions are paying off in big ways, as they consistently get new members each month. They rely on past referrals and word of mouth to get members. And with these consistent numbers comes new projects and services they’re offering to the community. The group does a quarterly service project with other local service organizations that partake in their monthly meetings. Through this initiative, the group goes out, volunteers in the community, continuing the networking cycle one step further.
Veterans in Business is also focusing on career development this year by offering LinkedIn and social media training. They created a meetup site so members can go on and connect with one another and see the group’s upcoming events. Their meetup site is http://www.meetup.com/Veterans-in-Business/.
Their services don’t end there, as they collect $2 from attendees each meeting to donate to local nonprofits. Gus, a frequent volunteer and meeting attendant, recently collected their generous donation to Hope For The Warriors®. The selfless nature of the leaders and, therefore, the group, is something all of us working to improve the lives of our communities can aspire to.
We are beyond proud to support and partner with Veterans in Business and look forward to many future endeavors working to support local veterans. Their next meeting is Wednesday, July 9.