Citizens Bank’s Small Business Recovery Program committed $2 million to business customers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the program, 134 small businesses were selected to receive a $15,000 grant to help them recover. One recipient is Operation Made, a small Rhode Island-based boutique where Veterans and military spouses can sell their handcrafted merchandise.
Owner Nicole O'Brien was compelled to find a meaningful way to help veterans and their families beyond a monetary donation. “These vets aren’t looking for a handout,” O’Brien says. “They just need support, because it can be so tough for them to find stable employment once they’re separated from the military.” Operation Made has been O’Brien’s way of employing veterans while also helping them find their purpose again. Many of the veterans involved struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and use art therapy as a way to heal. Using their hands and imaginations to create art is how many of these veterans endure emotionally–and through Operation Made, they can financially benefit, too.