AUBURN, Ind. (WANE) – Nicole Farrington first met veteran Steve Kaylor about a decade years ago when he walked into her salon, Razor’s Edge, for a haircut.
Shortly after that first meeting, Farrington learned that Kaylor needed someone to check on him and help with some everyday tasks. Kaylor, who served for several years in the 82nd Airborne Division and National Guard, admits that he can only stand for a few seconds at a time.
In the years since they have met, Farrington has provided rides for Kaylor to and from the local VA hospital, grabbed groceries and done other household chores.
“Without Nicole, I’d probably have to go to the nursing home,” said Kaylor.
Kaylor is not the only veteran that Farrington helps, as she also helps a retired veteran that was facing homelessness. She is driven to make sure these people are not forgotten.
“That’s what they want, to tell their story,” Farrington said. “Their stories are just unbelievable.”
This season, Kaylor has another reason to enjoy the holidays as he is one of many veterans being adopted by Fort Wayne non-profit Invisible Vets.
Since their founding in 2016, Invisible Vets has advocated for veterans facing homelessness and for those that are fighting mental illness after serving. One of their annual services is a Christmas adoption program, where they provide food and other household essentials to veterans in need and their families.
This year, founder and executive director Jim Garigen says the non-profit is serving a record 21 families thanks to partnerships with dozens of area organizations like Physicians Health Plan of Northern Indiana and Dexter Axle.
Garigen adds the group has also seen a record-high in private donations this season. Instead of donating money for the organization’s adopt-a-vet program, he asks those to connect with veteran advocacy groups like Shepherd’s House, FW22, Clothes for Joes, and Freedom Riders of Indiana Chapter 1.
“All of these veteran advocacy groups work so well together, and we make sure that nobody falls through the cracks,” Garigen says. “Where our need has been met, they may have a need.”