Volunteers work to beautify the homefront veteran community

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – Armed with brushes and smiles, volunteers work to transform an apartment complex for disabled veterans into a home they can be proud of.

They have finished painting one of two buildings at the Home Front Veterans Community, which houses approximately 50 disabled veterans who were previously homeless.

The Big Bend Homeless Coalition runs Home Front, but didn’t have the budget to hire a painting company.

So dozens of community volunteers picked up their brushes and stepped in to help.

“They are ready to make the ultimate sacrifice,” said Michael Solomon of the Big Bend Homeless Coalition. “So the least we can do is give them a really nice place to call home.”

This is the first time the home front veteran community has been painted since the buildings were constructed in 1974.

“As a nonprofit, most of the time your resources are so scarce,” said Annie Rada, development coordinator for the Big Bend Homeless Coalition. “Only very basic maintenance items take up most of your funding. So we usually don’t have the supplies to do something like that.

This new paint job is entirely thanks to a group of dedicated volunteers, led by Rada.

Even some of the Home Front residents climbed their ladders to put a new coat of paint on this building.

Rick Brown has been at Home Front for a year and he struggled with homelessness after his family home in Marianna burned down.

“Back then, I spent nights under bridges, sometimes under a tree,” Brown said.

After bouncing from shelter to shelter, he finally landed here, with a permanent roof over his head.

Home Front operates on a sliding scale, with some veterans paying nothing at all.

“I think it’s awesome,” Brown said.

Solomon said it’s not just about providing shelter, but also a community where veterans can feel supported and understood.

“So many of these people who have formed this lifelong bond meet here,” Solomon said. “They have shared experience, not only with the military, but also with chronic homelessness. They come here, they start healing together.

The volunteers finished the major painting project last weekend, but hope to recruit more people to do the landscaping and maintenance of these buildings.

You can email Volunteer@bigbendhc.org if you are interested in volunteering.

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