As the clock winds down on 2020, we followed up with A Future for Veterans Founder, Alex De La Campa, for a reflective check-in about what this year has meant for him and the community he serves. Check out our conversation below!
Note, a portion of Hopper Reserve’s proceeds are donated to FVF. Hopper Reserve is proud to partner with A Future For Veterans Foundation (FVF), supporting their critical mission to provide education, resources and housing for Veterans in an effort to curtail Veteran suicide. FVF programming combines art therapy, cannabis, and conversation to de-stigmatize usage for Veterans.
Hopper Reserve: 2020 has been a tough year for many, with loneliness, depression, and mental health struggles on the rise. How has FVF addressed this on behalf of veterans in California?
Alex: We continue to develop creative outlets of healthy self expression, procure supportive housing, and assist in solutions to our communities needs. These things have become increasingly necessary following this year’s events, with millions more people struggling with housing, food, and job insecurity. Coordinating lease agreements, pivoting to virtual support groups, socially distancing our hikes, food distribution, fundraising, SB34 donations, anything we can do to build our communities capacity to be resilient and grow. 2021 will require even more diligence as we find solutions to some of these issues.
Hopper Reserve: As you know, at Hopper Reserve, we believe in the power of cannabis to connect us with ourselves and each other. How have you seen cannabis have an impact on your community this year?
Alex: Throughout this global pandemic our work has never stopped. With SB34 going into effect at the beginning of 2020, we have been working on growing our partnerships and establishing the infrastructure to make sure that our veterans are up to speed and registered to receive this medicine. The decision to make cannabis an essential service directly impacted the health and wellbeing of the veterans that we serve on a daily basis. However, the cost has always been prohibitive, and the isolation and technological divide has widened the gap between those with access and those without. There is still lots of work to do, and we are blessed to have a supportive community that believes in what we are doing.
Hopper Reserve: As you look back on 2020 and the work A Future for Veterans has done to improve veteran’s experiences, what’re you most proud of?
Alex: I am most proud of the relationships that have been built during this time. Many of our veterans vary by age, branch, religion, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, experience, and so on. There have been profound moments during this pandemic, where we have learned about each other and ourselves in ways that I wouldn’t trade for nothin’. I am so proud of the work that we are doing to bring people together, so that they can realize just how special and impactful they are to other people. We also have done a lot of good work building our own capacity and being able to meet our goals for 2021 and beyond.
Hopper Reserve: What are you most looking forward to in 2021 about the our partnership?
Alex: Our partnership with Hopper Reserve is instrumental in creating space for our veterans to interact with art as a medium for self expression. We expect 2021 to be just as difficult if not more difficult for many people, and many of us are trained to destroy, inflict violence, and withhold our own heartfelt emotions. Holding space for veterans to create, communicate, and discover themselves is incredibly honorable work that we are excited to embark on with the support of Hopper Reserve.
Hopper Reserve: Did you see or experience any art this year that moved you?
Alex: I fell in love with street art while living in Mexico city a few years ago. I think interpreting their art as I was learning their language was really powerful in understanding how we as humans communicate with each other. This year, I have been inspired by the art that is being created out of the social and economic justice movements we are experiencing. Good and bad, I have learned so much about my city, my state, and my country through the art that has been created this year.
Hopper Reserve: If you could recommend one Dennis Hopper film for people to watch before the end of the year, what would that be and why?
Alex: I think we should get the Super Mario Bros trending again! King Koopa