by Monterey County Herald

Marina >> A recent shift in policy for one local nonprofit will be making a huge impact on the Veterans Transition Center in Marina.

The Naval Postgraduate School Foundation decided this week to give the center its largest ever donation from a single source.

The $150,000 gift will be used to repair its headquarters, Martinez Hall, and expand programs.

“Obviously, we’re ecstatic. It’s very generous,” VTC executive director Terry Bare said Thursday morning by phone from a homeless veteran conference in New Orleans.

The center received a $50,000 grant from the Monterey Peninsula Foundation three weeks ago.

Retired Capt. David Silkey, the head of the NPS Foundation, said it chose last year to give 50 percent, minimum, of money earned through its annual America’s Heroes Charity Golf Tournament to wounded warrior charities.

He said the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have given the foundation a new focus.

“As those wars are winding down, the needs of those who have returned will not decrease. They will probably actually grow,” he said.

Of golf tournament proceeds, 25 percent will continue to go to the foundation, mostly to be used for projects at the Navy school.

The other 25 percent will go to local charities. In the past, they had given to larger charities, such as Sentinels of Freedom and Semper Fi Fund.

Silkey said Sylvia Panetta, CEO of the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, had recommended the center to the foundation, as well as the Central Coast Veterans Cemetery, which will get $50,000.

Other major beneficiaries include Stay in Step ($90,000), Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors ($80,000), ThanksUSA ($110,000), Wounded Warrior Canine Connection ($150,000) and Wings Over America ($5,000).

He said the golf tournament has raised net proceeds of $5.2 million over nine years. The one-day event netted more than $960,000 this year.

Since opening in 2002, the center has provided housing to more than 1,300 veterans, including 420 families with children. It also provided other types of assistance to about 12,000 veterans.

Martinez Hall is a hub of veteran activity, featuring life-skill trainings, church groups, homeless prevention groups and Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous meetings.

The foundation will present the check to the center in a special event outside the hall at 220 12th St. on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m.