General Needs focuses on helping the 5000+ homeless Long Island Veterans and their families by providing basic necessities through your charitable donations and support. Our mission focuses on providing basic necessities that are missing in the everyday lives of our homeless veterans.
In 2008, General Needs founder Lonnie Sherman volunteered at a monthly “hot meal” service at the Northport VA Medical Center in a veteran’s emergency homeless shelter. Lonnie noticed during the November-December some civic groups and individuals came in to offer clothing and coats to the residents in the shelter. These veterans are housed for up to 90 days while undergoing treatment for PTSD, Substance Abuse, Mental and Physical therapies as well as Medical Procedures. However, in January, and the rest of the year, little was offered by to assist the veterans. In conversations with the veterans and the social work staff it became obvious that the residents needed simple, everyday items such as underwear, socks and t-shirts; stuff that was rarely donated to the shelter.
In soliciting family, friends and business associates for support, Lonnie would ask “doesn’t everybody like to open a fresh, new bag of underwear?” He would pool donations of these basic undergarments and money (including from his own pocket) until he had accumulated and purchased enough items to service 40-45 veterans. He would pack the clothing in reusable shopping bags and thus provide a “Distribution with Dignity” by handing out new, much-needed, appropriately sized goods for the veterans. Lonnie always included a smile and a look in the eye while providing a heartfelt “thank you for your service” handshake. Lonnie became known as “the underwear man.”
Distributions went from sporadic to quarterly to monthly with the assistance of family and friends’ participation in this cause. In time Lonnie came to understand these veterans lacked many other basic necessities such as toiletries, seasonally appropriate clothing, footwear, etc. Lonnie’s solicitations for support led to increased donations the eventual result of which became better service to our veterans by Lonnie’s organization, General Needs!
In May 2015, General Needs Ltd. became a federal 501(C)(3) Non-Profit Charitable organization. In addition, General Needs Ltd. applied and was granted the Certificate for Not-for-Profit Registration from Suffolk Count Veterans Service Agency and is registered with the New York State office of the Attorney General. General Needs now services “monthly” Veterans housed at Emergency Shelters for Homeless Veterans from Brooklyn/Queens to Riverhead.
General Needs draws its support from Long Islanders who are compassionate and concerned about those who have served our country. We draw no salaries nor take any goods or money collected for personal benefit.
Distributions with Dignity
General Needs operates under the general principle of “Distributions with Dignity.” This statement reflects how we approach our mission of helping needy veterans. Whether homeless or living in transitional housing, all veterans and their families deserve to be respected for their service and sacrifice to allow all of us to maintain our American standard of living. Why we assume that their expectations of a good life to be any less than ours? While there are many excellent charities who deal with used clothing we have seen with our own eyes how a rack of cleaned clothing, of random styles, sizes and conditions really turn off a veteran. We only distribute NEW clothing, toiletries and household goods; the same items any of us might purchase for ourselves. We buy new winter coats, new sneakers, new t-shits and new boots. But we go a step further, we do not lay bags of underwear, socks, shampoo bottles or toothbrushes in piles on tables. We like to always present items sorted in some type of duffel or gift bags which may have utility in a person’s life. In this way, we distribute “gifts.”
During holiday times, we like wrap presents in joyful paper just as though they were under a Christmas tree. All of our monthly distributions at residential facilities are accompanied by a meal, usually prepared by a local restaurant, and often sponsored by our community partners or the restaurants themselves. In the summer months, many distributions are accompanied by barbecues, some of which have volunteer entertainers. We sit and chat with our veterans as we are all family, united in spirit.
On our website, you will see many pictures of our volunteers preparing and participating in distribution activities. However, you will NOT see pictures of our veterans. These are proud people whom have had difficulties in life and are not necessarily comfortable having others see their living circumstances. We have their confidence and strongly respect their request for anonymity as part of our guiding philosophy, “Distributions with Dignity.”
General Needs Leadership
Founder / President
Lonnie J. Sherman is both the Founder and President of General Needs. His path to these positions have their origin in Lonnie’s charitable endeavors.
Having been in insurance and financial planning industry for 30 years, Lonnie has worked in all facets from Sales, Recruiter, Trainer, Sales Manager and General Agent for the major firms such as John Hancock, MassMutual, MetLife and Guardian Life Insurance. His success is due to his commitment to serving his clients with honesty and integrity.
Throughout his career, Lonnie has devoted time and efforts to several charitable organizations in addition to serving on the advisory board of Ronald McDonald House in New Hyde Park, N.Y.
Lonnie is an avid New York Yankee fan and was present on October 18, 1977 for Reggie Jackson’s 3 homeruns during Game 6 of the 1977 World Series. He is also a percussionist and played in a Latin band performing in New York City and Queens venues. Lonnie is most proud of his family, Susan, his wife and sons Andrew, Michael and Ryan, all of whom have been instrumental in supporting General Needs.
Dr. Mitchell Schare
Dr. Schare holds the rank of Professor of Clinical Psychology at Hofstra University where he trains doctoral students in the PhD program in Clinical Psychology and directs the Phobia & Trauma Clinic; a facility which has a specialty program to aid Veterans. The program is named the Armed Services Adjustment Program (ASAP) and helps veterans to deal with PTSD and other service related difficulties.
Dr. Schare, the son of a WWII Vet and draft card carrying “child” of the Vietnam era, has worked in the Providence VA Medical Center and a Vet Center. He has over 30 years of experience working with Veterans and their families in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and related problems. An extended bio may be found here.
Co-founder / Secretary
Susan Sherman is a Radiologic Technologist with many years of multimodality imaging experience including certifications in several specializations. She transitioned to radiological accessory and radiation protection sales in 2000 and since 2008 is the North American Sales and Business Development representative for MAVIG GmbH, a German manufacturer and world leader in radiation protection.
In the early years of General Needs, Susan would work alongside her husband, Lonnie, President and Founder of General Needs, to collect, count, and package donated underwear, socks and tee shirts stored in the lower level of her house. Together, with her sons and friends they prepared for what in time became monthly “Distributions with Dignity.”
Susan comes from a long family tradition of Marine and Naval service members making her particularly compassionate for veterans who are devoid of family support. Her mission in tending to these needy veterans is to bring them comfort by letting them relax, smile, converse and showing that someone cares about them. She strongly believes that we should treat our veterans with the love, compassion, understanding and empathy which they earned through their military service both off and on the battlefield. She reminds us that sometimes the biggest battle they fight is that from within and the scars are not so easy to see.
As secretary, Susan has been instrumental in helping to organize all of our distribution activities. She has rallied family, friends and a host of volunteers to participate in General Needs. She is proud of her son’s involvements in the organization. Susan is also a member of the Rotary Club of Huntington and works on the Events Planning Committee. She grew up in Woodbridge, New Jersey and knows the value of a blind date; which is how she met Lonnie!
Therese Mora is a graduate of Adelphi University with a dual Degree in Education and Business. Most of her professional career has been within the Banking industry, serving as a bank Manager for 30 years. During the past 10 years she has served as a Branch Manager/VP at TD Bank in Huntington Village Area.
Therese grew up in the Huntington Township and has always been involved in the Community. Understanding, mentoring and serving others in the financial field has always been a great part of her career. Giving back to her community and others in need has been her passion. Therese has been very involved with organizations such as LI against Domestic violence, United Way, St Marks Coptic church and many local organizations as a volunteer. Her family is a top priority having raised four beautiful children who are now giving back through their Honor societies and college fraternities and sororities.
Gene Sicard is President and founder of the NY Audio-Video production company Trendset Studios, Inc. and is passionate about his involvement in General Needs. Since 1985, Trendset Studios has created countless number of campaigns telling the story of advertising, corporate and non-profit clients and will document the story of General Needs as it grows.
Mr. Sicard trained as a classical singer at the Manhattan School of Music. He went on to sing baritone with the New York City Opera and was a featured soloist with the Joffrey Ballet and the Buffalo Philharmonic. In 1978, Sicard formed The Trend, which was considered the East Coast’s premiere Motown, ‘50s & ‘60s vocal group.
Additionally Mr. Sicard has been a producer, composer and arranger for Atlantic Records, and has a Top 20 hit to his credit.
Mr. Sicard lives in Suffolk County’s Huntington Station with his wife, Theresa, and their two sons, Paul and Eric.