AIR FORCE MOM – A VISIT TO VALOR HOME IN AKRON
Today I attended a workshop/orientation for the Valor Home in Akron. I first learned about Valor Home when I read an article on ohio.com that was showcasing this beautiful new facility in Akron. After reading the article, I wanted to learn more.
The Valor Home in Akron is a transitional home for veterans who have no home at the present time. They live there for up to two years while re-establishing their lives with daily programs to re-acclimate in the community, find a job, establish a place in the community to live and so on. This facility is for male veterans only, and span in generations from the Afghanistan war through Vietnam and including a Korean War veteran.
IMPORTANT FACT: Did you know that 67,000 military veterans sleep on the street in the United States every single night? This statistic has remained essentially the same since the Civil War. Really. The Civil War. What this statistic says to me is that the United States does not do a very good job of preparing veterans to return to life after war. Since the CIVIL WAR? This is a sin.
Presenting the workshop today was David Peacock from the Valor Home. A group of friends attended along with me. We were there because all of us are interested in volunteering at the Valor Home with our therapy dog teams. We had twelve therapy dog team people interested in this program! It was a tremendous turn out. Therapy Dogs will help provide a bridge between humans when there is seemingly nothing to talk about.
The Valor Home is rich with therapy programs that help quietly transition these men and their lives back to the community. Yoga, community skills, individual counseling, art therapy, music therapy and meditation are only part of the day’s agenda. Homemade meals are shared in a group dining room. There is a computer suite where basic computer skills are taught and improved upon. There is a big screen TV in the family room. There are no TV’s or computers in the individual rooms. The entire program is based on community.
The residents of the home maintain the building. It is by far the cleanest place I have been in for a long time! Bathrooms are pristine, the laundry room is spotless. Nothing is out of place. A great deal of pride goes into maintaining their home.
The design of the Valor Home is subtle and thoughtfully created by Dave Peacock and his team. The walls are warm yellow and gold variations… earth tones that remind you of the warm colors of fall. The therapy rooms are carpeted and open. The individual living areas are clean, fresh and welcoming. The walls are the slightest shade of lavender that is restful and sleep inducing.
Sounds like the government isn’t doing so badly for the veterans, right? Well, consider that David has a budget of $42 per day, per veteran to feed, house, clothe, help transport, provide therapy programs, support staff and security for the thirty bed home.
Because of this rather meager amount, this home, and other homes like this find that donations are extremely valuable. One of the ways that Valor Home is raising funds is with the opening of a thrift store for second hand clothing in the Highland Square Area.
The Valor Home Thrift Shop is located at 764 W. Market Street, Akron OH 44303. It was a little tough to find, but if you are familiar with the area it is in the same building as Two Turtles Pet Store, BUT, it’s around back and down behind. From W. Market St, you turn on Grand Avenue and turn immediately into the parking lot behind the plaza.
The Valor Home Thrift Shop accepts clothing donations only on Thursdays, and invites customers throughout the week. Please consider a visit if you need vintage clothing for any reason – a great place for play clothes, work clothes, dress clothes, shoes or even for school plays or costumes at extremely reasonable prices!
The manager of The Valor Home Thrift Shop is a charming man with a great smile named Antonio Smith, an Army veteran. He welcomed my daughter and me as soon as we walked through the door – and chatted companionably as we browsed. The back wall had artwork and poetry that was created and voluntarily donated by a few of the Valor Home residents. Please see the pictures with this blog for an idea of the work that is being done.
Even if you visit The Valor Home Thrift Shop and don’t find what you want, please, please consider donating to the Valor Home. Visit their web site for the current “wish list”.
Today, the group asked David what contributions were the most valuable to him at the current time and he said, “Metro Bus passes”. Sometimes there isn’t time to put in a requisition to the V.A. for transportation and wait for the paperwork to go through the channels when someone needs to get somewhere quickly.
Valor Home accepts donations of food items, laundry baskets, sheets, towels – but he said they had a huge donation recently of toiletries and they do not need soaps and shampoos, etc for at least a year! Please check the list – and if you just want to give from the goodness of your heart – cash is a very valuable gift that can be used where the need is the greatest. You can also earmark your donation for a specific project – such as “$20 for Metro Bus passes” – and they will do the shopping for you! (P.s. No DVD’s or books please – there is no room in this facility for a library or storage of these items. Plus there is a library nearby – in the community!)
This is such a worthwhile facility – the support staff is absolutely wonderful – everyone smiles the instant you walk through the door. The ambience is comfortable. If you are interested in volunteering in a specific area, please contact the Valor Home and make an appointment for the next volunteer workshop orientation, which is a requirement of volunteering – along with paperwork for a background check.
There is much more to say, see and do, but my writing about it won’t help it get done. Only YOU can have a direct hand in helping these veterans learn how to break the cycle of NOT preparing veterans to re-enter life after war. Volunteer or donate – every bit helps.
A big thank you to the Therapy Dog Handlers that attended along with me today! Carol (her Beagle, Bridget), Mark and Kelly (their Portuguese Water Dog, Marlie), Irene (her boxer/mastiff Lizzie), Maria (her Rottweiler, Thor), Lauryn (her lab mix Missy), Lori (her Cattle dog, Houston), Vern (his Old English Sheepdog, Lizzi), Gretchen (her lab, Molly), Steve (his German Shepherd, Lizzie) and soon to be Therapy dog team Stefanie (her lab/pit mix Molly). What a wonderful way to share yourself and spend time with your best friend!
God Bless America. And God Bless our treasured Veterans.
From an Air Force Mom – Jeni Cox (and my Chow dog, Zack)