HIGH POINT, N.C. — The old John Wesley Camp is now in the process of being transformed into The Heroes Center. The center is to help local student veterans stay off the streets and on the right track.
On Thursday, Covelli Enterprises, a company that owns several Panera locations, presented the nonprofit with a check to help veterans ease into civilian life.
The $16,361 will pay for electricity in the main dorm building.
Right now, the camp doesn’t look like much. Just some dilapidated buildings and halfway constructed cottages.
But there’s a concrete sign out front that signals change ahead.
“We found out there were about 40 or 50 veterans at any given point in time at Guilford Technical Community College, who were living out of their cars, homeless, trying to get an education, and trying to get back on their feet and get a job,” Victor Jones said.
Jones is the vice chairman of The Heroes Center and serves on the High Point City Council.
It’s a tough transition that both he and Bob Uber, the founder, have had to experience.
“I’ve lost a few Marines that I’ve served with who didn’t make it through that transition,”Jones said.
“They sacrificed their youth at 18 to go and serve in the military and got deployed and they tend to bring those experiences back with them,” Uber said.
So they’re both determined to make a difference.
There will be a main dorm building that could house about 18 veterans, in addition to two smaller cottages.
Expansion could be possible if the organization acquires grants.
With each room, each window peaks into the possibilities for all local student veterans.
“[It’s] a larger population that would benefit from training, from life skills training to job training,” Uber said.
There would also be recreational and art therapy available, helping veterans overcome any obstacles that could prevent them from achieving success.
But they also plan on providing support they feel is truly necessary.
“For the actual veterans, it gives them a sense of, ‘People actually care about me,'” Jones said. “They don’t feel that. They don’t feel that they’re forgotten anymore.”
Jones says it’s also beneficial to the community and to the city of High Point. The ultimate goal is that by welcoming them back, the veterans will be able to give back as well.
“We know there will be a 90 percent placement rate for veterans when they come out. They’ll have jobs,” Uber said. “They’ll buy homes and they’ll have families. And they’ll be a part of the fabric of our community. That’s because they didn’t fall through the cracks in the transition from the military life back to civilian life.”
The Hero Center hopes to have the first veterans move in within a few months.
They believe when other cities across the country see the success that they’re anticipating, they’ll create similar programs and campuses too.