April 26, 2012 – HomeAid Houston, a 501 c 3 charity that builds transitional housing for Houston's homeless, has joined efforts with Darling Homes to overhaul the community kitchen that serves 100 formerly homeless male and female veterans who range in age from 28 to 83. These individuals live at the De George at Union Station in downtown Houston. This is a single room occupancy facility, meaning each resident has their own room with a bed, dresser, desk, small bathroom, microwave and mini-frig. The vets share a small community kitchen that has seen better days.
Bill Dalton with Darling Homes, and a HomeAid board member, has generously volunteered Darling Homes as the Builder Captain to renovate the kitchen. Darling Homes is leading the team that also includes several HomeAid board members that will demolish the existing space and revitalize it beginning with the floor. The space will also be enhanced with new cabinets and countertops, appliances, plumbing, lighting, paint and a new sink and plumbing fixtures.
"This project is something the HomeAid/ Darling Homes team can do for those who have served our nation," said Mark Welch, president of HomeAid Houston. "U.S. vets deserve dignity and respect. If we can provide a basic necessity that enhances their daily lives, then we are fulfilling our mission."
According to the Houston Chronicle 's July 18, 2010 edition, the growing number of homeless veterans in the U.S. is alarming. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans for example, are turning up on the streets faster than those who served in previous wars, often within 18 months of returning home. In 2009, 2,566 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans sought help through VA homeless program services nationwide.
The De George at Union Station works with veterans to help identify mental and physical health issues, and locates service providers and treatment options. The De George gives veterans access to a number of basic services including:
"Some of the residents will move on after getting an education," Welch concluded, "but many view the De George as their home. A safe, well designed kitchen can give that extra level of comfort to so many individuals."