LAWTON, Okla._A Lawton home that will soon be a safe place for homeless veterans, was once a place of refuge for another family.
Don Shelby is a local veteran who is in charge of a group called "Home at Last". He and his crew have been renovating a house located at 815 SE 'E' Avenue for the past few months.
However, in the early eighties, a family of seven who escaped from Cambodia found sanctuary there, as well. They learned this weekend about the home's new purpose.
Vathana Dy came to the United States in the early 1980s with her mom, dad and seven siblings. Her family escaped Cambodia after the Communist took over the country, and ended up seeking refuge in the blue house on Southeast 'E' Avenue.
After escaping Cambodia the family spent two years in a refugee camp in Thailand, hoping and praying someone would sponsor their trip to America.
"When we lived in the camp, we lived in the huts. You know. We didn't have much. You know, because of the war that we lived through," Vathana Dy said.
In January of 1981, those prayers were answered. The late pastor, Sam Moyd, who was a staple in the Lawton community, helped bring the family to the United States.
For Dy and her sister Ahnika, this home is filled with many memories and was the first place they felt safe.
After the loss of their mother in 2001 and father three years before, they were forced to sell the sanctuary they'd come called home.
"She didn't want me to sell anyways but I didn't have a choice. I can't pay all those bills," Ahnika Dy said.
In a neighborhood where most of the homes around it have been condemned and torn down, they find peace knowing the house is going to bring the same reliefs and blessings to others in need and provide a gateway to travel back in time.
"My brother, my sister, they have kids that they can bring the kids and show them, and say 'hey this is where mommy and daddy come from,'" Vathana Dy said.
Dy and many of her siblings still live in the area. And often drive by the home to check up on it. They are incredibly thankful to Don Shelby and supportive of his home at last project.