LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) -A non-profit organization is in the beginning stages of creating a Veterans Resource Center in Lawton.
Lawton Support Services owns the old Armed Services YMCA building as of last year and plans to turn it into a one stop location for veterans.
Lawton Support Services started the Eye Count Campaign seven years ago alongside other groups to eliminate homeless veterans in the area.
“That first year we identified more than 130 street homeless veterans here in the city of Lawton. Over the past seven years in particular we’ve decreased that number by 80%,” said Jervis Jackson, Director of Southwest Continuum Care.
Since then, the support from the community has allowed Lawton Support Services to grow and offer multiple services such as housing and providing case managers.
The Veterans Resource Center is an end result to bring all services together in a one stop location.
“Instead of going from place to place, to location to location, service to service, they will be able to come right here, and not only get the services and resources that they need, but have a case manager that will take them and hold them by the hand. The goal is to not just house, but to house and get the ability to sustain the housing, so if that means we need to hold their hand for awhile until there’s stability created in the house, then that’s what we’re prepared to do," said Jackson.
A retired veteran who served 20 years in the Army says it’s great to be a part of this project.
“It gives me pleasure to be able to aid the veterans and to be able to have a better life and do better for themselves and not be in a situation where they don’t have a place to stay and live," said Jesse Cobb, Board Member of Lawton Housing Authority.
They got the building last year and started fundraising efforts for renovations, but ran into some road blocks.
Jackson said they’re ready to move forward this year. The total cost for renovations is about $1.2 million.
“We anticipate getting 80% of the funds through grants from Hud, other foundations, local business owners, corporations, but 20% needed for renovations we’re looking to get from the community, and we’re hopeful that all the support we’ve received in the past, it will be there now," said Jackson.
Jackson said they are hoping to start renovations this year. Their goal is to be open June of 2021.
If you’d like to donate, you can do that by contacting Jervis Jackson at the Lawton Housing Authority by calling (580) 353-7392.
They are also collecting clothing for veterans which is being stored in the building at this time.