Saturday, November 12, 2016

A vet - and a prayer - bring housing for homeless vets

Pastor Donnie Davis is on a spiritual mission to transform an old South Jersey campground into a place of tranquility for homeless veterans.

The Amazing Grace Ministries has embarked on an ambitious project to spruce up a sprawling 277-acre waterfront property in Gloucester County.

Davis purchased the abandoned site in Franklinville in June and has recruited an army of volunteers for Operation Safe Haven, a peaceful retreat where combat veterans can get back on their feet. The vets will be selected by the Veterans Administration.

"It doesn't matter what branch they are in. I have to take care of them," said Davis, 42, a former police officer and Air Force veteran.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, nearly 40,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. Over the course of a year, approximately twice that many experience homelessness and about 1.4 million others are considered at risk of homelessness, experts say.

Davis plans to provide free housing for as many as 60 homeless veterans in "micro-housing" units - tiny houses - where veterans can stay free for up to two years. The veterans will have access to mental health services, peer counseling, and job search assistance.

Construction is expected to be completed by the end of the year on the first five houses, which have been paid for in full. The first occupants are expected in January.

Located on Delsea Drive, the property formerly was the Village Dock campground. It was vacant for about a decade, fell into disrepair, and was targeted by vandals and squatters.

Last month, about 200 volunteers showed up to lend a hand clearing the grounds, removing debris and cutting down trees and clearing overgrown shrubs.

Home Depot sent 100 employees from nine stores in South Jersey and donated $10,000, which will be used to pay for a house on the property, Davis said. Joseph Jester, a local welder, and his employees donated their services to dig a 110-foot well that will supply water to the compound. A Folsom module home company, 4-U, is supplying the homes.

"It was something I thought I had to do," said Jester, 50, of Franklin Township. "It's something good that can benefit other people. We don't do enough for our vets."

When Ida Gonzalez, of Spotswood, heard about the project, she said she knew immediately it was the perfect cause to support in memory of her son, Michael, 20, who was killed by an IED while serving in the Army in Iraq in 2008. She donated $10,500 to cover the cost of a module home.  (Click to Continue)

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A vet - and a prayer - bring housing for homeless vets


Betty said...

Bless you, Pastor Davis, and everyone working with you.

Scott said...

When communities come together, they are unstoppable!