Since Bastion’s founding, the Bob Woodruff Foundation has been an invaluable partner and supporter. Like many of our residents, Bob and Lee Woodruff know firsthand the challenges that many of our veterans face.
Bob was an ABC News reporter covering the Iraq War when his armored vehicle was hit with a roadside bomb. He sustained a nearly fatal traumatic brain injury (TBI). During his recovery at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Md., Lee met many families of veterans who were experiencing the impact of TBI and other hidden injuries including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression.
It was a long road to recovery, but the couple took their experience as the impetus for starting the Bob Woodruff Foundation. Today, the foundation strives to “find, fund, shape and accelerate equitable solutions that help our impacted veterans, service members, their families, and their caregivers thrive.”
Executive Director Dylan Tête is very direct about the foundation’s contributions to Bastion.
“We wouldn’t be here without the Bob Woodruff Foundation,” says Dylan. “Their initial seed funding allowed me to quit my job and work full time on the project. Later they gave us the funding to pilot Headway, our signature brain injury program, and during the pandemic, they funded our telehealth program that provided services to more than 200 people across four countries in six months. Finally, the foundation awarded another grant to pilot our food program to address food insecurity among veterans.”
On a recent sunny afternoon, Bastion hosted the Woodruffs, their son Mac and Bob Woodruff Foundation Chief Program Officer Meg Harrell. Here are a few photos from that memorable visit.
Retirement didn’t slow down Bastion resident Sylvia Magee. Magee, a proud mother of two Air Force veterans, had worked as a cook in the Jefferson and Orleans parish school systems for 38 years before retiring in 2018, but that didn’t mean giving up her love of cooking for people. And that made her a perfect match for Bastion’s resident-driven food plan.
“I never stopped,” Magee says. “Before the program, I was feeding the sick and the homeless under the bridge. When they told me about the program, I thought ‘that’s right up my alley.’”
Bastion’s food program, sponsored by the Bob Woodruff Foundation, kicked off this past June, working off the proverb If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach him how to fish, he eats for a lifetime. One in four veterans have experienced food insecurity, which is the lack of access to healthy and nutritious food, and Bastion’s program provides residents with access to healthy fresh produce and other items and teaches them how to cook with it.
“From the beginning we wanted something sustainable for the residents,” explains Bastion Program Manager Renard Dominique. “We have a food pantry onsite, which is regularly filled with produce from Culture Aid NOLA; we have a chicken coop on the grounds and we’re planting fruit trees. It’s one thing, however, to make this food accessible, and it’s another to show folks how they can make delicious meals with it. That’s where the Bastion chefs come in.
Every other Friday, Magee and her fellow Bastion chef, Shantrise Sykes, a veteran resident and a former cook for the Louisiana National Guard, prepare dinner for the community. The dinners offer New Orleans cuisine like catfish, red beans and rice, fresh salads and other lesser known nutritious dishes like acorn squash casserole, and cooked with less sodium, half the fat and still high in taste. As residents stop by the Purple Heart Room for meal pickup, they can often also get the recipes.
Prior to the recent spike in Covid cases, the chefs were also teaching cooking classes,and Magee hopes to return to that once the pandemic numbers are more manageable. With help from other Bastion residents, the chefs have prepared a number of community-wide holiday dinners, and Magee says that they will be doing something special for Valentines Day.
“We’ll be cooking for the parents that day, so they don’t have to worry about making dinner,” says Magee. “And the kids will be giving out goodie bags to their parents, because you have to have something sweet on Valentine’s Day.”
The Crescent City Classic is back and we want YOU to join Team Bastion! With your previous support we have raised $150,000 from this prestigious race to benefit our veterans and families for which I am extremely grateful.
Together, we can continue to provide:
Our Bastion community is expanding throughout the metro area with special programs that address brain health and food insecurity, but we need your help! As a member of Team Bastion you can raise $200 or more through the Run For It Charity Registration.
Here's how to register:
If you encounter any problems with registration, we can help! Click here for assistance.
As a member of Team Bastion you will receive a custom t-shirt and free pass to the finish line extravaganza for libations and high-fives with the rest of the team. Don't miss out, sign up today!