Formerly homeless veteran gives back at Hines VA pantry

HINES, Ill. (WLS) -- Sunday is the kick-off of National Volunteer Week and all week long you are encouraged to get out into your community and get involved.

We caught up with one local veteran that already spends much of his time volunteering and he is making us Chicago Proud.

Bob McMahon is counting his blessings because after serving our country he fell on hard times.

"I was actually a homeless veteran. I spent three and a half years living in a tent on the Chicago River and from there I found out that they have a program here at the Hines Hospital. First thing when I got here they asked me what they can do for me. I was quiet astonished by that question what they can do for me instead of the other way around," McMahon said.

McMahon was diagnosed with COPD which keeps him from working full time. He was one of thousands of veterans in our area in need.

"The need among veterans remains really high. In Cook County 14,000 veterans live are at or below the poverty level. You talk to people like Bob that struggle with the issue. There are so many people in our community that deal with the issues he's struggled with every single day. Now what they call on disability and on a fixed income. On a fixed income the food pantry here is a Godsend for people like myself and other veterans who are finding it hard just to be able to purchase groceries every month," said Paul Morello, senior manager of public relations for the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Despite his own circumstances, Bob has been volunteering in the pantry at the Hines VA each and every week for the past two and half years.

"Keeping a smile on my face is just as important as putting a smile on somebody else's anything that we can do to help ourselves we do and anything that I can do to help them I'm more than happy to do," McMahon said.

If you want to want to volunteer your time with the Veterans Programs at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, visit
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