Baltimore’s ‘Little Big Shot’ Continues to Help Veterans
At just six-years-old, Tyler Stallings is helping to change the world.
For the past two years, Tyler has been packing “hero bags” with snacks, water and other critical items for veterans at the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training (MCVET).
The youngster’s initiatives are funded through proceeds from Kid Time Enterprises, which Tyler serves as the honorary CEO.
While donning a superhero cape during fundraisers, Tyler has also used funds from a book he has written to help MCVET and other veterans’ organizations.
And, just last month, Tyler appeared on the hit NBC TV Show, “Little Big Shots,” with Steve Harvey.
“I always wanted to be on his show and I got to meet Mr. Harvey and he was funny, but nice,” Tyler said about meeting the host of the show that focuses on notable children, whether they are talented or doing good, in the world.
Mostly, the appearance was an opportunity for the ambitious philanthropist to help fight against homelessness for veterans, particularly those at MCVET, a national nonprofit based in Baltimore that provides comprehensive services and support to homeless male and female veterans from across the country.
“He has a big heart for MCVET,” said Jeffrey Kendrick, MCVET’s executive director.
“He is what we must look forward to in the future. His commitment has stood out and it isn’t something you see a lot because a lot of people say they want to give back, but when you see Tyler’s level of commitment … I’m awestruck.”
Tyler takes a strong cue from his mother, Andrea Blackstone who says he was initially motivated after seeing YouTube videos about homeless veterans.
“He wanted to help, and he asked why they were homeless,” Blackstone said. “He wanted to buy a house for each of them and I told him we couldn’t afford to do that, but we came away with something we could do and I’m so proud of him.”
Tyler has also delved into the book, publishing world, authoring the book, “Tyler Goes Around the World,” a children’s book he wrote with Blackstone.
“He didn’t like to go to sleep at night, so I created a game to teach him about places in the world, imaginary things, and we’d fly around the world and we studied about different places,” Blackstone said. “We’d discuss these different places at night and he’d be so eager to go to bed. It became easier for him to learn more about the next thing and then the next thing and he’s always loved books and I really wanted him to embrace literacy, so I was proud that he wanted to write his own book.”
Tyler used the proceeds from the book to donate to veterans and his mom said he’s working on more projects in which he’ll be even more independent.
“I want to help all of the veterans,” Tyler said. “Even if they aren’t homeless— I wish I could help them all. That’s what I want to do in the future.”
With his efforts that include a book and an appearance on “Little Big Shots,” Tyler has already raised thousands of dollars but to him, he said it seems like millions.
“Since the show aired, he’s raised thousands of dollars and the majority has gone to MCVET,” Blackstone said. “His GoFundMe campaign has significantly picked up and people have reached out to ask how they could help.”
Kendrick says the show appearance was priceless.
“When I came to work the next day, my mailbox was flooded,” he said. “Steve Harvey mentioned MCVET in the last two or three sentences and I think people took time to look it up and all of a sudden we had all of this attention.”
Tyler donates a portion of the proceeds from any of the items that he sells online to homeless, elderly or disabled veterans and their families.
On behalf of the MCVET Board of Directors, staff and our students, we want to wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year.
As we continue to look towards the future, we believe now is a good time to reflect on all we have provided for over more than 8000 homeless veterans and those we will continue to serve going forward.
As we have done for the past 24 years, MCVET has steadfastly adhered to our core mission of "Veterans Helping Veterans." We continue to make significant strides in enhancing our services to those who have selflessly served our country. To achieve our mission, we must rely heavily upon the continued support of our service organizations, business and community supporters, individual donors and volunteers who allow us to provide transformative life improvements to our students.
Many of you may be aware that this past year MCVET forfeited approximately $1,000,000 of our operating budget due to our differences with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and it's "Housing First" Initiative. Our participation in the 'Housing First" model would require MCVET to be accessible to any homeless individual who would not have to adhere to our policies and rules, which we feel is essential to our unparalleled success over the years. Therefore, our Board unanimously voted that we could not compromise our mission and would not participate in the Housing First Initiative.
We are excited to embark on a new frontier of helping not only our veteran community, but also others by providing Intensive Outpatient Services. (IOP) This Initiative will provide critical therapeutic support services while still allowing us to achieve our primary goal of full time employment and stable housing for our eligible veterans.
These services are much in line with similar Baltimore city funded programs that we support such as Code Blue, the inclement winter shelter and the homeless women's shelter program.
Importantly, our mission remains steadfast and true that until there are no more homeless veterans, our cause and methodology continues to be what guides us.
Contrary to rumors being circulated, these new aforementioned additions DO NOT in any way compromise the service we will continue to provide to our students.
Stand with MCVET as we continue to make a difference in the lives of this most vulnerable population.
"IT TAKES AN ENTIRE COMMUNITY TO HELP A VETERAN HEAL!"
Jeffery Kendrick, USAF (Ret)