Give Your Jacket a Second LifeBenefitting the American Red Cross and Kristyn’s Closet
When the work you do gains you an affectionate nickname, you know you’re truly making a difference in people's lives. This is the story of Viviana DeCohen (Mama V), Commissioner of the Veterans Service Agency in Mount Vernon, New York, who oversees its resource program, Kristyn’s Closet. DeCohen’s dedication to helping Veterans through a myriad of ways has touched us deeply—and it’s why we’re so proud to feature her and her work for Kristyn’s Closet, a resource program for Veterans to get their feet back on the ground by providing donated clothing and shoes. Join us in supporting the cause, in partnership with the American Red Cross, by donating your gently-worn VB Jackets at a VB store near you. You’ll receive 20% off any full-price jacket in return. Here, we speak with DeCohen on her journey with the program and what giving back means to her.
After being sworn in as Commissioner of the Veterans Service Agency in Mount Vernon, New York, my very first phone call was from a Veteran that needed a suit for an interview that was taking place within an hour.
This position is appointed, and I just happened to be the recipient of an award for outstanding service to Veterans from a local women’s organization. The current Mayor, Shawyn Patterson-Howard, who had not announced her candidacy as yet, was there to support the other honoree. Mayor Patterson-Howard introduced herself to me and stated that she had just seen me on the news for a 9/11 volunteer event and that she was thinking about running for Mayor and wanted me to be her Commission for the Veterans Service Agency if she won. Well, she did win and here I am. I ensure food, shelter, clothing, education, benefits, and a dose of motivation as we continue to serve in our community.
I get emotional with this particular memory…
For the Veteran—who has served God, country, and family—service is innate and service never ends. We always pay it forward and we always give back. That is why we volunteer in our community by serving others. I am affectionately known as Mama V because I am a giver of wellness, motivation and resources. I give back, never to get back, but to heal the world—one person at a time. That is what giving back means to me.