WINSTON-SALEM - As the United States honors the 12th anniversary of 9/11, Whole Man Ministries launched a project Wednesday to revitalize homes for Winston-Salem veterans who do not have them.
Partnering with Veterans Helping Veterans and local businesses, like Home Depot, Whole Man Ministries has purchased (with funding efforts) five foreclosure homes on Cameron Avenue. Home Depot store manager Don Jebb said Home Depot has donated floors, kitchen cabinets, interior paint, landscaping tools and manpower to assist in the revitalization of the five homes, which are on track to be completed by Veteran's Day in November.
Whole Man Ministries reverend Kenneth Holly and public relations representative Gerald Green explained only exterior work on the houses can be completed this week. That work will be completed in conjunction with the efforts of a local company that has pledged to remove all of the lead inside the homes, which could pose a threat to volunteers and future tenants, if left unaddressed. After the lead is removed, crews can begin working on the interior of the houses.
The mastermind behind the project is Whole Man Ministries pastor Barry Washington. He told News 2 that on several occasions in which he visited a local homeless shelter, he noticed several veterans who were homeless. So, for the past several months, Washington has been garnering community and local business support to plan out the revitalization project.
Washington said he has not yet begun the interview process by which Whole Man Ministries and Veterans Helping Veterans will select veterans to live in the five soon-to-be refurbished homes. He said already, two veterans have reached out to him inquiring about how to obtain one of the homes. Up to 12 veterans, Washington said, will be able to live in the houses.
Washington and Green said each home will cost between $75,000 and $100,000 to revitalize, and Whole Man Ministries is asking for continued support and funding from the community. The organization affirmed it has begun looking at other properties to purchase, in order to eventually expand the project of providing homes to homeless veterans.
According to the National Coalition of Homeless Veterans, there are an estimated more than 62,000 veterans nationwide who are homeless on any given night. News 2 reached out to United Way of Forsyth County to obtain an exact number of how many veterans in Forsyth County were considered homeless this past year. United Way did not return News 2's requests for information, but Pastor Washington said he estimated about 150 veterans in Winston-Salem, alone, do not have permanent homes.
As of 6:30 a.m. Monday, approximately two dozen Home Depot employees began working on landscaping the yards of the five houses. At noon Wednesday, Winston-Salem mayor Allen Joines and representatives from the offices of U.S. Senators Burr and Hagan are scheduled to speak at the construction site and officially acknowledge the project's kickoff.
Community members who wish to volunteer time or donations can e-mail veteransatwholemanministries.com or call 336-785-2080.