Volunteers make improvements to Vinton veterans' homeless shelte - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Volunteers make improvements to Vinton veterans' homeless shelter

(Source: Candy Rodriguez/KPLC) (Source: Candy Rodriguez/KPLC)
VINTON, LA (KPLC) -

Home improvements are underway at the veterans' homeless shelter, A City of Refuge, in Vinton and it's all thanks to volunteers from Richmond, Texas, of the Calvary Episcopal Church and volunteers from Orange, Texas, of the St. Paul Episcopal Church.

The volunteers provided their muscle for some much-needed home improvements. Removing old silicone to freshly caulk between the logs of the 10 log cabins on the property that house up to 10 veterans. 

"People say, 'Oh, man these are senior citizens coming out here, nothing's going to happen,'" said Mary Ellen Plut, the volunteer behind this mission trip. "Then these guys are amazed and say, 'Wow, these people are really working hard.'"

For more than 30 years, the homeless shelter has been helping those in need. However, in the past few years, the non-profit shelter decided to primarily focus on veterans after realizing there was a need. 

Roughly 40,000 veterans were homeless in 2016 according to the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs. At A City of Refuge 5,692 veterans have been housed in the past two years, according to the shelter's administrative assistant, Denise Stigen.

"We've started seeing an influx of Iraq, Afghanistan and even some from Desert Storm veterans," she said. 

They've helped out veterans like Robert Underwood. 

 "It's been a wonderful blessing," said Underwood, who for the past four years has lived at the shelter.

"It's a good start to get in with the community and figure out what kind of jobs and want kind of things you can do here," said the 10 year Army veteran of Desert Storm and believes the transitioning back into civilian life is one of the biggest obstacles veterans have to face when they return home.

"The jump from no work to nothing," he said.

Underwood said he's been fortunate to find A City of Refuge and the shelter is thankful for the helpful hands of the church volunteers. 

Copyright 2017 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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