Veterans homeless shelter almost ready

Published 8:06 pm Thursday, November 1, 2018

A project to help homeless veterans hit another snag recently and is seeking assistance from the Warren County Board of Supervisors.

Eva Ford, who has been working to get a shelter up and running for homeless veterans since 2015, approached the board during their work session this week and informed the supervisors someone had “borrowed and not returned” the heating and air conditioning system. She asked if the board could help fund the replacement of the unit.

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“I’ve done everything I need to do and could open up tomorrow,” Ford told the board.

Board president Richard George told Ford that county attorney Blake Teller will research what the law allows the county to do for the non-profit.

“If the law doesn’t provide an avenue for us to do it, then we have to get what is called a local-private legislation from the state legislature, which would give us a special privilege to allot the money,” George told Ford. “We think the law may already exist that may allow us to (provide funding).”

Once that is determined, George said county officials will look at the building to determine what type of air conditioning unit would be most suitable for the facility.

Helping veterans

The idea for the center came in 2015 during a discussion between Ford, a retired nurse practitioner with the Veterans Administration, and a young veteran about his experience and how little help veterans receive after they are discharged.

The center is geared for recently discharged veterans to help them readjust to civilian life, and the board hopes to provide counseling for the veterans when needed. Warren-Yazoo Mental Health has agreed to work with the shelter, and retired teachers will come to the shelter to help veterans prepare to seek jobs by helping them with courses like math and English.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen April 2 approved a $10,000 donation to the center.

“I was most grateful for that, because it’s not about me, it’s about our veterans,” Ford said. “I wanted to preserve it so long after I’m gone and resting in peace with the Lord; I want it to still be here for the veterans to live on, because they deserve it.”

The center is located on a 2.5-acre tract at 1701 Court St. that was donated by Atwood Chevrolet.

Ford said the building’s interior had to be modified for its new role.

“Originally, the inside was just like one big hall like a schoolroom, so I broke it down, where there would be a dining room, bedrooms and a kitchen,” she said. “I have offices and bathrooms, and I had to break those down, too, because I may have someone who is disabled and I had to change the way the bathrooms were.

“This is long past due, we should have had one a long time ago, but I guess later is better than nothing.”

She said it makes her feel good to know that she’s had support from the community and different people who have tried to help out, “Even if it was nothing more than to help me cut the grass or help me keep the paint going; they were doing something at some point in time to help me.

“That made me feel good that I wasn’t alone. That God had planted somebody in my path to help me do some of the things I wanted to do for the benefit of our veterans.”

Mostly complete

Ford, a retired nurse practitioner, told the supervisors the Vicksburg Warren Veterans Transition Center is mostly complete with the exception of the air conditioning unit.

The facility is managed by Ford and a nine-member board. She encouraged the supervisors to tour the center and see the progress that has been made.

“I would appreciate all of you to come down and see what all we have done and what it looks like,” Ford said. “Then you will have a better idea of what you’re working with.”