WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — According to the United Way, There are about 40 homeless veterans in Forsyth County. One Winston-Salem organization is looking to cut that number by almost 25 percent.
Whole Man Ministries is heading up a project in Winston-Salem where they are currently turning five abandoned, historic homes into permanent homes for homeless veterans.
“We saw veterans sleeping up under bridges, sleeping in abandoned cars and houses and stuff,” said Kenneth Holly, of Whole Man Ministries. “Reaching out to them, this is the way we can do it, and by providing the first thing they need and that’s a safe place where they can call home.”
The homes are located on Cameron Avenue in Winston-Salem. Three of the homes will be split into duplexes, while the other two will be family homes. That means at least eight homeless veterans will have a permanent roof over their heads come the projected November completion date.
On Friday, there were about 40 workers helping with the project. Some were veterans, including Myron Smith, who at one point was homeless himself.
“This is fantastic therapy for me. I mean, physically, to stay active, it helps the medication work even better,” said Smith.
In the 80s, Smith was in the Army. He fought in Afghanistan, Beruit, Nicaragua, El Salvador and saw many things which still haunt him today.
“Sending little kids out with AK’s. It’s a bummer,” said Smith. “It’s kind of hard to explain. I’d rather not.”
Years later, without his knowledge, Smith developed Post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I remember sitting, watching TV, thinking I could go in the other room and off myself, and I was like ‘where is that coming from,'” he said.
Smith became homeless, spending last winter at “tent city” in Greensboro; a popular place for homeless veterans in Guilford County. He is now in the process of acquiring a home himself, but helping other veterans do the same, is as a good a treatment as any.
“If they gotta be displaced, so be it. But they don’t have to be displaced in discomfort,” he said.
Holly says the project is 98 percent volunteer run. The majority of the funding comes from corporate sponsors. To donate to the cause, visit wholemanministries.com. Holly also says that on Wednesday, the 20th, if you visit any Chili’s in Winston-Salem, 10 percent of what you spend will go towards the project.
According to Partners Ending Homelessness, there are 98 homeless veterans in Guilford County. Allied Churches, who runs the homeless shelter in Alamance County, says they have five to ten homeless veterans staying with them on any given day. Davie County officials say they do not have a homeless shelter, therefore they have no way of knowing how many homeless veterans live in the county.