AN ARCHITECT'S CONCEPT of Starting Home transitional housing for veterans, to be created from two existing wings of the old Carroll County nursing home building. (Courtesy photo) (click for larger version)
April 24, 2014OSSIPEE — Last Oct. 21 former Carroll County Commissioner Dorothy Solomon presented a proposal to the County Delegation to convert two of the four wings of the old county nursing home into transitional housing for veterans. By the end of the meeting she received an 18-month period to develop a concrete proposal, by a close vote of seven to six.
Now, six months later, the project is taking shape. According to Solomon, there is a state-approved non-profit organization, Starting Home, that is seeking federal status as an IRS 501(c)3 entity that can accept tax-deductible contributions. Architectural plans for converting the two wings have been completed by Tony Fallon Architecture of Strafford, and cost estimates are being developed, along with a business plan for funding operations once the facility is opened.
U.S. Navy veteran Robert Pierpont has also prepared a PowerPoint presentation on the project, which is available for showing to interested groups.
Most importantly, there will be an informational meeting and fundraiser for the project this Saturday, April 26, from 1 to 4 p.m. at American Legion Post 46 at Tasker Hill Road in Conway. Solomon, who is chairman of Starting Home, and American Legion member Larry Ayers, vice chair, will speak and take questions. There will be refreshments, music, a Chinese auction, and a 50/50 raffle.
The goal of the project is not simply to provide temporary housing for veterans, but to also help them find jobs, get training to improve job skills, help identify and address medical conditions, and provide transportation. A total of 18 rooms will be made available, along with meeting and training rooms. The transitional housing will be provided to male veterans who are Carroll County residents.
Solomon says that determining the real level of need for such a facility is difficult, since Carroll County is the only county in the state without a homeless shelter, and it is homeless shelters that provide the only hard data that is available. Homeless veterans often live in their cars or seek temporary shelter wherever they can find it.
Ayers has estimated that there are at least 10 homeless veterans in the county. Others put the estimate higher, at 50 or more, based on the experience of other counties.
"The need is there," Solomon says, "and the unused space in the old nursing home works well for transitional housing."
Starting Home will need both contributions and volunteers. For more information on how you can help, please contact Solomon at 447-1199, David Dube at 986-1488, John R. White at 569-2590 or Robert Pierpont at 569-4770.
A basic website has also been created at vethousecc.org.