ANOKA, Minn. – (Dec. 21, 2017) – In just 57 days this run down, abandoned building was transformed into a welcoming safe place for homeless veterans.
“It is remarkable how far we have come in a short amount of time,” said project organizer Sen. Jim Abeler.
Initial estimates indicated that the building would cost more than $4 million to restore, but with an all volunteer crew and donated items they building was given new life for only $350,000.
“We just took what was here and made it useful,” said Abeler.
Now, the first veterans have moved in and there is space for many more. The operation is run by Eagle’s Healing Nest and as the building comes to life the healing focused programming is beginning.
“It is a place where they can come and heal and feel safe,” said facility manager Laura Bartley.
Laura herself was once in need to the services of Eagle’s Healing Nest now she has once again found purpose for her life.
“It has meant the world to me,” said Bartley.
Robert Larson was one of the first veterans to call this place home.
“There is a lot of love and kindness. Veterans come in all shapes and sizes and we all have our unique issues in life,” said Larson.
Robert has struggled with homelessness for many years. After leaving the Navy he had difficulty decompressing and developed a severe case of PTSD stress shingles. Which resulted in chronic pain that still affects him today. Even with his struggles he is still very proud of his service to our country.
“I was a good sailor,” said Larson.
Robert has bounced around between different shelters and living situations and feels that Eagle’s Healing Nest is finally the right place for him.
“This is a safe environment, a safe house. I’ve been in the skyway system in the cities…you have no place to go and no one wants you,” said Larson.
He is looking forward to taking time for himself and has plans to go back to school in the near future.
“I’m trying to come up with the resources, the money, to afford the tuition,” said Larson.
The work is not finished. There are two more buildings to be opened up. The space for women veterans is expected to be finished by February and then work will begin this spring on a space for homeless veteran families.
Everyone involved in the project is just so thankful for all those who spent time to create this safe space of healing.
“I’m grateful to all the people…it does feel like home,” said Larson.