Joni Mofardin, US Air Force Veteran (left), Lou DiPonzio, US Marine Corps Veteran (center), and Lindsay Chambers, Third Party Events Coordinator at Veterans Outreach Center (right), show their pride at the 2017 Veterans Outreach Center Annual Pound the Ground Run.

Thinking about the 9,000 runners and walkers from over 300 companies that will participate in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Downtown Rochester on May 22, Laura Stradley couldn’t help but smile.

“Veterans Outreach Center has been in existence since 1973,” said Stradley, the Executive Director of the Rochester-based organization that assists current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces. “We are the oldest non-profit serving veterans in the U.S.  However, we are still unknown to many, even in the Rochester community.  Being given this wonderful opportunity to partner with J.P. Morgan and be exposed to such a large variety of individuals and companies is a huge plus for us.

The 28th running of the Corporate Challenge will serve as a benefit and awareness builder for Veterans Outreach Center (VOC), with J.P. Morgan donating in commemoration of each entrant to the popular 3.5-mile company team run/walk.  The effort of the participants will have an impact long past the finish line for veterans and their families in Rochester.

“We provide a variety of services to veterans and their families, all free of charge,” said Stradley. “These services include benefit counseling, employment and job training service, wellness programs, financial and legal counseling, veterans’ treatment court, housing assistance programs, residential programs, ands much more.  We are excited to be preparing for a capital campaign to make much needed improvements and renovations to our male homeless shelters. The monies received will be utilized to allow VOC to continue to provide world class services across all these platforms.”

Stradley is an Army veteran who spent eight years on active duty and in 2015 was inducted into the NYS Senate Veterans Hall of Fame.  She feels enormous pride in being associated with VOC.

“Quite simply, the difference we make for a struggling veteran may be life-saving,” Stradley said. “Our staff listen to veteran clients with compassion and respect, and they identify solutions to some of the most complex and challenging issues a veteran might be facing.  It’s heartwarming to be involved with an organization that has such a strong impact on our nation’s heroes who have proudly served their country.”

This year’s J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge remains open for registration through May 3 and companies also have time to convert their race experience into a true company outing by securing hospitality space within Frontier Field.

And Stradley is looking forward to event night, with an eye on identifying new advocates to promote Veteran Outreach Center’s vision and mission.

“If we could be fortunate to just make a few new connections with the participants at the Corporate Challenge, it would be a bonus,” Stradley said. “We have a variety of ways for people to be engaged with VOC.  We have many volunteer opportunities. Honestly, just having the ability to reach out to the vast number of people who are involved with the Corporate Challenge and expose the name and VOC brand will hopefully pay dividends well beyond the initial generosity received from J.P. Morgan.”