Walking up on the Five Star Veterans Center yesterday and seeing a sea of orange Team Depot shirts already hard at work I knew that this was going to be an amazing day. There were men and women with rakes clearing a spot for the hundreds of bags of mulch that were brought in, there were men and women pressure washing the concrete, and weeding the plants, some were painting the fence, and that was just what was going on outside. Inside Team Depot members worked to refurbish bathrooms, paint, put carpet in the rooms, and give it an overall "homelike" feel for the veterans who live there. Each of them greeted me as I walk past, and made sure that I knew where I was going and if I needed anything before they went on about their business.
I had been here before, in fact that is part of the reason why this project was so special to me. This project was going to be MY project, a capstone for my Mission Continues fellowship. Things did not go as planned though, and we ended up having to do something else. Somehow seeing the follow through of this project a year later made it even more special.
Helena Mitrovich, from the Southside Home Depot was the mastermind behind this all. Being the mother and husband of two Army Reserve soldiers Helena knows the importance of giving back to our veterans , and did not hesitate to step up and serve as the Team Depot Captain.
On any given night in 2012, 62, 619 veterans were homeless. The renovation of the Five Star Veterans Center is one of the many things The Home Depot Foundation is doing during their third annual Celebration of Service Campaign that will focus on eradicating homelessness among veterans. When given the right tools and support, veterans can overcome many of the challenges that come with transitioning home.
For some veterans like Patrick Petty, 30 the transition can take years. Petty served as a marine in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and 6 years later, he still suffers from the trauma of combat. The 5 Star Veterans Center has been a life changer for Petty, who says that he is "Very Thankful, for the support of Col Loving, CEO of 5 Star, and the rest of the staff." Petty who has been at the center for 5 months says that his life his changing for the better. "I went through the works, you name it I did it. I am not ashamed to say that now because I am past that, I am becoming a better man. " says Petty. His plans for the future are looking brighter everyday, and he is looking forward to using the skills he has been given at 5 Star to become an independent contributing member of society.
The Veterans here were not the only ones to have a story of overcoming, join me tomorrow for a more in depth look at Team Depot, and the individuals who make the team.