January 25, 2012 - A City of Refuge

For 26 years now, the City of Refuge has been a place hundreds of combat veterans and their families have called home.  Founded by Burt Stegin, the old Shady Oaks motel currently has 23 residents.

"We started out to be primarily for combat veterans coming home from Vietnam with post traumatic stress disorder," said Bert Stegin, founder. "The Vietnam era is winding down.  We thought our job was just about done, but now the Iraq veterans are coming home with the same problems."

The refuge gets no government money, because it is a faith-based ministry.  Their biggest need right now is a new kitchen and dining room.

"It'll be a multi-purpose building. Our old kitchen/dining room was severely damaged during hurricane Rita.  We've patched it up to make do.  The termites hold the mortgage, so we're just about at the end of that run."

Board member Houston Fruge says he's seen so many positive stories come from the shelter and that's why he and other volunteers lend their support.

"It's kind of like being saved from drowning," said Fruge.  "There's one gentleman that was there, he had a wife and a young boy and was in a bind.  We managed to find him a job.  He worked a little bit.  I think he pretty much got back on his feet."

To help raise money for the new construction, the City of Refuge is holding a fundraising dinner and auction on February 11 at the Isle of Capri.  For info, call 337-532-4271.

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