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Steven

Canes For Courage

North Chesterfield, VA

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Personal Story

As a retired Combat Veteran, I founded Canes For Courage in 2012. Having served as a Special Operations Officer with the 401st Civil Affairs (CA) Battalion in Webster, New York, I led teams as an Assistant and Primary CA Team Chief with first-rotation deployments to both Bosnia in 1996 and Afghanistan in 2002.

While in Bosnia, I decided to sponsor one of my translators for college in the US. Though I had no idea how I would fund such a prospect, Providence provided and between my domestic partner and me, we managed to pay for all of his expenses during a four-year period.
The Bosnian Muslim, Emil Okanovic, went on to earn two degrees in 31/2 years in International Business and Political Science...all that, a sixth fluent language, and a perfect 4.0 Grade Point Average.

After retirement and relocating to Virginia, I noticed that a combat-wounded friend was using a Veterans Administration (VA) issued adjustable cane with Iraq and Afghanistan stickers attached to it. Deeming it unacceptable, I resolved to use my 30 years of talent and passion to create a functional work of art that would not only assist the veteran with walking, but allow him to display individual awards and/or beliefs on his totally unique cane.

In addition to custom-carved canes, I have begun to carve walking sticks and individualized custom carvings. Furthermore, I have been recognized for my skill as a painter. My most recent painting, "Window of Opportunity" resides in the George W. Bush Library and Museum in Dallas, TX. It was the first combat painting from the war in Afghanistan.

Facing numerous obstacles as an innovative and creative Army Officer, I gained international attention when I spoke up for my soldiers who were being deployed for a second tour before a mandatory 12-month stabilization Period at home. Egos of superior Commissioned and Non-Commissioned Officers got in the way as these commanders attempted to send them back to war before their allotted time. My mini-rebellion halted hundreds of soldiers from being deployed early, but cost me dearly within the chain of command.

My true-life story of my early development and time as a soldier is captured in my soon-to be-published memoir: Special Ed: The First American Soldier/Teacher in Afghanistan.

Business Description

I founded Canes For Courage as a Veteran-owned small business specializing in novelty (but very useful) canes, walking sticks, specialty carvings, home paintings (picture), and my personal Memoir, Special Ed: The First American Soldier/Teacher in Afghanistan.

I decided to begin the business after seeing a combat-wounded friend's government-issued, adjustable cane with "Afghanistan" and "Iraq" stickers on it. Noting that these stickers were a very cheap way to commemorate this soldier's sacrifice, I asked the soldier if I could make him a cane befitting of his service - particularly highlighting his Purple Heart Medal.

I began work on the cane the next day. And a week later, the soldier was overwhelmed with my creation. He stated: “Steve, this is the coolest thing I own!”

My biggest challenge so far is getting technology involved to increase productivity. While each cane is built to a customer's specifications, the technology would do most of the rough work for each project.

What is the purpose of this loan?

The purpose of this loan is to invest in CNC Laser or CNC Router based technology which would increase my productivity and accuracy. In addition, I plan to have 200 brochures made up and distributed to stores (CVS, Walgreens) and military organizations (American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars) that have expressed interest in Novelty canes. I also plan to use some of the money to advertise in local county newspaper publications. I truly believe that a company like mine has been the dream of many, but a reality for none. I am so honored to take these first steps in appreciation of America’s heroes.

Steven's loan is endorsed by United Virginia. The information below explains why his trustee thinks Steven is a great candidate for a Kiva Zip loan.
How long have you known this person?

1-6 months

Tell us about your relationship with this borrower.

Steve was referred to our organization by the Veteran's representative at the local workforce center, and we've enjoyed a great relationship with him thus far. He's currently enrolled in our 16-week business training program, and we're deeply excited about the potential of Canes for Courage!

Tell us about this borrower's personality and character, and why you are endorsing him or her for a Kiva Zip loan.

Steve is a retired officer of the US Army Reserves, having served in both Bosnia and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, he served as a cultural liaison officer and worked to rebuild schools in the country. His previous career was in special education, and he is deeply passionate about woodworking and helping out veterans.

Tell us about this borrower's business, and why you believe a Kiva Zip loan will contribute to his or her success.

This loan is going to make a significant difference for the future of Canes for Courage, enabling Steve to produce canes much more quickly, with a higher degree of quality and precision. Canes for Courage is also poised to have an obvious social impact with their outreach to veterans.

146 Total , 1 invited by Steven
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PAYING BACK

A loan of $5,000 helps me to invest in CNC technology which would increase my productivity and accuracy.

Disbursed Aug 7, 2013
Repayment Term:
24 monthly payments
Grace Period:
N/A
Listed:
Jul 29, 2013
Disbursed:
Aug 7, 2013
Paying Back:
Aug 8, 2013

About Canes For Courage

Industry:
Arts / Crafts
Years in Operation:
6 months - 1 year
Website:
canesforcourage.com
Badges:
Badge_connectedness_gold_small

What are Borrower Badges?

Borrower Badges are a system designed to recognize and reward borrowers’ engagement with the Kiva Zip website.

There are two types of badges that are tiered like medals: Gold, Silver and Bronze.

  1. 'Repayment badges' are awarded for the on-time repayment of loans.
  2. 'Connectedness badges' are awarded for engagement with the Kiva Zip website.

This loan is endorsed by

Trustee Type:
Non-profit focused on Micro-business Development
Location:
Richmond, VA
Badges:
Badge_repayment_bronze_small Badge_connectedness_gold_small
On Zip Since:
Jan 14, 2013
(15 months)
Loans Endorsed:
4
Total Value:
$12,400
Fundraising/Raised:
0
Paying on Time:
3
Paying Back Late:
1
Repaid in Full:
0
Defaulted:
0
Repayment Rate:
86%
Why are you endorsing Steven?

Steve is a retired officer of the US Army Reserves, having served in both Bosnia and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, he served as a cultural liaison officer and worked to rebuild schools in the country. His previous career was in special education, and he is deeply passionate about woodworking and...

What are Trustee Badges?

Trustee Badges are a system designed to recognize and reward trustees’ engagement with the Kiva Zip website.

There are two types of badges that are tiered like medals: Gold, Silver and Bronze.

  1. 'Repayment badges' are awarded for the on-time repayment of loans.
  2. 'Connectedness badges' are awarded for engagement with the Kiva Zip website.
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