2017 in Review

The Xena Project 2017 Report (please click link for pdf version)

Dear Xena Family,

Thank you for another year of impactful service to our community’s warriors.

The Xena Project is a 501(c)3 organization founded and run by military veterans. We facilitate mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing for warriors and their families in both group and individual formats, in a safe, tranquil environment rooted in nature. In addition to the ministry that is our foundation, we offer animal encounters, counseling (peer-led, pastoral, licensed professional), and family reunification programs.

The Xena Project serves military veterans, law enforcement, first responders, and families. Programs are free, and we challenge ourselves daily to become maximally accessible. What does this mean in practice? It means group studies that talk about violence, fear, guilt, hopelessness, anger, depression and isolation. It means meeting veterans where they are, whether isolated in their own homes, struggling with addiction, in or newly out of jail, or falling through the cracks of daily life.

With your support, in 2017 The Xena Project:

  • Reached more than 400 veterans and family members across all programs, with a marked increase in frequency of engagement by both individuals and families. Approximately 30% of those served are family members. Of the veterans, more than 80% combat veterans; of these, 1/3 served in Vietnam or Korea. This year we were humbled to serve several World War II veterans.
  • Opened to law enforcement and first responders during summer 2017, at their request; we believe that reintegration efforts for both veterans and law enforcement may be made easier by uniting like-spirited people, first. Since our August expansion, The Xena Project has averaged 10 hours each month in peer-led phone counseling to law enforcement officials, and attracted several actively serving officials to weekly support groups. Also since August, we have received referrals of veterans by law enforcement officials at approximately three times the frequency we ever have before, and from more precincts, which we attribute to growing reputation for working with both populations.
  • Launched the Donald Charles Outreach Program, which focuses outreach efforts on homebound veterans and family members, including those in assisted living facilities or nursing homes. Through this initiative we bring existing programs (fellowship, food, art, animals, studies and small groups, individual counseling, pastoral care) to men and women who are challenged to reach us; over time, we will develop the capacity to bring homebound veterans to our location. Named after Donald Charles Shultis, Sr., who served in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, and Donald Charles Shultis, Jr., who served in Korea and Vietnam, we are currently serving several homebound individuals, and bringing services to a retirement community in Sugarland.
  • Established weekly support groups for the first time in the organization’s history. Over the course of a 6-week spring study and a 12-week fall study, attendance grew from one to 15 regular attendees, with more confirmed for the spring of 2018.
  • Trained the community about mental, emotional, and spiritual health challenges among veterans, including regular training to law enforcement officials in several precincts in the greater Houston area about how to effectively interact with veterans and de-escalate volatile situations. This year, such trainings put us in front of nearly 200 law enforcement officials over the course of 8 classes in Richmond, Missouri City, and Baytown. The Xena Project is also thrilled to experience an exponential increase in requests to speak to local veterans organizations, civic organizations, and community clubs.
  • Supported Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. While sometimes opportunities to be of service fell directly in line with our mission area, many times this simply meant rolling up our sleeves and getting to gritty work. The Xena Team supported recovery efforts by:
    • Sheltering nine displaced horses during the storms
    • Expending more than 50 man hours demolishing flooded homes (clearing mud, moving ruined furniture, pulling up flooring, cutting out wet insulation and walls)
    • Completing more than 75 hours of phone and in-person counseling to flood victims and first responders struggling with anxiety, depression, hopelessness, fatigue, and other challenges
    • Delivering more than 100 meals for distribution to veterans who lost all worldly possessions in the flood
    • Special projects, such as cleaning saddles and damaged tack (horse equipment) for veteran families whose properties were swallowed by water and river mud
    • Securing hundreds of pounds of donated meat from organizations between Houston and San Antonio, to continue feeding displaced families
    • “Health and welfare” checks on half a dozen elderly veterans living in rural areas, whose families could not get an accurate status update
    • Volunteering with fellow community organizations to distribute food, toiletries, and other basics.
  • The ministry distributed more than 50 Bibles and assorted Bible study guides during September and October to veterans in Wharton and Fort Bend Counties through organic meetings.
  • Welcomed miniature cow “Geoffrey” to the healing team, where he joins miniature horse “Star” in doing good work, every day.

We move into 2018 full speed ahead, and hope for your continued support. Newly established programs and initiatives, such as the Donald Charles Outreach Program and law enforcement engagement, will remain areas of focus. As part of these efforts, we will soon bring services to Fort Bend County Jail, where approximately 30 veterans are currently held, followed by other area jails. We will build upon relationships formed during Hurricane Harvey, and intend to do more work in Wharton County in the months to come.

To accomplish these objectives, we need you, and your support of time, resources, and prayers. Together, we will continue to support and enhance the mental, emotional, and spiritual well being of veterans and their families when, where, and how we are optimally impactful. Here’s to another incredible year!

With gratitude and prayers for a blessed holiday season for you and yours,

Jan Shultis, Founding Director, The Xena Project

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