Volunteers of America is building a fence, a covered pavilion and a fire pit outside The Garfield House, a transitional home for formerly homeless veterans, said Amanda Gustavson, marketing director for VoA.
The project was funded by a $6,000 grant from the Home Depot Foundation, with labor from volunteers of both her organization and area Home Depots.
“They came out in September of 2013 and began some other projects,” Gustavson said, including the demolition of a back fence and an old wooden pavilion, both of which were rotting.
Jan Smith and her fellow Home Depot co-workers began planning in February for the ongoing beautification project, she said.
“We came in and did a walk-through assessment of needs,” Smith said, including the preferences of the nine residents of the house.
“We tore down the back fence two years ago, and the pavilion, so we went back and figured out how much wood, how many bolts and screws, we would need, then wrote a grant proposal, which was awarded,” Smith said.
The group came together Dec. 5 for a work day.
The Home Depot Foundation supports programs meant to improve the lives of military veterans, she said.
There are many factors at work that could lead to homelessness for veterans, Gustavson said, and their priority once they’re at the Garfield House is to make sure they have resources at their disposal to address what brought them to the house in the first place.
“Whether that’s substance abuse treatment, help for post-traumatic stress disorder, financial planning or medical help,” she said.
And while they’re at the house, she wants them to feel at home.
“We want it to look nice,” she said. “Every time I come by, there’s always a group sitting outside in the back here, so we wanted to replace the old gazebo and give them a covered place to wind down.”
Veterans may stay in the apartments for up to 2 years upon acceptance into the program, and Gustavson said they’ve had a high degree of success when it comes to getting veterans off the street and transitioning them into stable home environments of their own.
“This house was established as a home for widows and orphans in 1918, and after that, it was a fraternity house, so it has a storied history. I think it’s still a little like a fraternity house. They developed a close bond, kind of like brothers, while they are here” she said.