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Making a real impact

Home sweet home: Mike Driscoll speaks during a the groundbreaking of Impact Veterans and Families Housing Center, which will consist of 26 units of affordable rental housing for veterans and their families. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA /TIMES PHOTO

Mike Driscoll, a new state representative and board chairman for Impact Services Corporation, describes the agency as an under-the-radar force for good in Philadelphia.

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Established in 1974, Impact Services provides job training and supportive housing for needy Philadelphians, including ex-offenders and those on welfare. It strengthens business districts, provides programs for youths and assists unwed mothers.

In addition, Impact serves more than 300 homeless and disadvantaged veterans a year.

“It’s wonderful. The magnitude of people we help, we are literally changing lives every day,” Driscoll said.

Recently, the agency broke ground on the Impact Veterans and Families Housing Center, consisting of 26 units of affordable rental housing for veterans and their families. Timmy Kelly sung the Star-Spangled Banner.

The center will arise from a $9 million renovation of the former Technitrol Inc. factory at 1952 E. Allegheny Ave., two blocks east of Kensington Avenue. Operating subsidies are being provided by the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

Kelvin Jeremiah, executive director of PHA, was in attendance, along with state Rep. John Taylor. The center will accommodate female vets.

“It’s the first of its kind,” Driscoll said. “It really fills a need.”

Driscoll has been chairman for eight years, replacing the late Joe Egan, a former Bustleton resident and mayoral candidate who resigned to battle pancreatic cancer. Egan would be proud of the veterans center, Driscoll said.

John MacDonald, who will retire in April as president and CEO of Impact Services, is also proud of the center.

“There are many folks looking for this kind of assistance,” said MacDonald, who will be replaced by chief operations officer Casey O’Donnell. “To be able to offer help to women veterans and their children is important and ideal. The families have a more difficult time uncovering adequate housing as a result of having dependents. This will give us the opportunity to create a community of folks who are working through some difficult times and provide the supports that are necessary for them moving forward.”

Jerry Beck, deputy adjutant general for the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, participated in the groundbreaking.

“Many veterans face challenges throughout their lives that may lead them to lose their home, eventually becoming homeless,” he said. “Fortunately, there are many wonderful programs across our commonwealth that provide much-needed programs and services that may support veterans’ specific needs, so it is important that we work with organizations like Impact Services Corporation to identify and provide the benefits that they may be eligible for.” ••

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