John Mroczka, Senior Director of the McGaw YMCA Residence, has been awarded the Rotary Humanitarian Patriot Award for services to U.S. veterans. John has worked for the McGaw YMCA for almost thirty years and has made the Y’s Residence, 12% of whose occupants are U.S. veterans, the successful community that it now is.
Single room occupancy facilities have long attracted veterans who are living on a disability allowance. While this sort of safe housing is clearly a better option than
many, without treatment, structure and guidance, veterans living in single rooms can drift toward greater isolation, increasing symptoms of distress, and more illness and hospitalizations. It has been observed repeatedly that
veterans flourish the best when they are in a community where they have significant case management support, access to good medical and psychiatric care, encouragement and help in building friendships, and assistance developing new vocations.
John is a Vietnam War veteran himself, and retired from the Naval Reserve in 1998. He has built, and continues to lead, the team that helps men move toward healthy living and successful integration into the community.
John is the first to say it is the whole team that makes the success of the residence possible, but his personal dedication, and the understanding that he has from being a veteran himself, are his strengths. For example, he recently worked with a disabled veteran who suffers from addictions and substance abuse. He provides ongoing encouragement and supports him in seeking help, and this veteran is currently attending AA meetings and has celebrated 90 days of sobriety.
John seeks out veterans at the Evanston Vet Center and at the North Chicago Veteran’s Hospital to encourage them to apply to the McGaw YMCA Residence. He is always there for them, and it’s hard to persuade John to take a day off. The McGaw YMCA is very proud to have him as a member of its staff, and that he has received this richly-deserved recognition from Rotary.