Sunday, March 1, 2015

Renard Honored for Service to Maple Court's Veterans

Veteran Peer Specialist Sean Porter presents
Laurie's service award.
Director Daniel Oladele, Laurie Renard
and Asst. Program Director Jimmie Collins.

The veterans of Maple Court
 raised their own money for the plaque.
Laurie had them sign the back.
By Laurie Renard
Vice President, Homestead Heights Garden Club 
February 5, 2015 was a special day for one Homestead Heights Garden Club member—me!

I had been asked to be at Maple Court Transitional Housing for Homeless Veterans (located at 207 Commons Boulevard in Durham, near the intersection of Roxboro Road and E. Carver St.) at 2 o'clock; no reason given.

In the days before the 5th, I was asked for telephone numbers of certain garden club members and a couple of the Veterans who had moved to independent living. So, my assumption was that volunteers were going to be recognized, but I had no idea that I was the one being recognized until I saw the cake. What an honor!

Maple Court History:

In 2001 the VA reached out to Volunteers of America of the Carolinas (VOA) to build a facility for homeless Veterans in the Durham area. Working with the VA, NC Housing Finance Agency, City of Durham, and State Employees Credit Union, a four-building complex was built and was opened in April of 2009. Maple Court is comprised of three buildings of eight one-bedroom apartments plus an office/resource/community building.

Veterans, referred by the VA or other agencies serving homeless Veterans, must be verifiably homeless, drug free for a minimum of ninety days, approved by the VA, accepted through VOA interview process, and with income below 50 of the median income for the county to be able to move to Maple Court. During the time Veterans are at Maple Court, VOA provides case management services designed to help them re-establish their lives and meet daily living needs, improve their education, life and job shills, and find employment. Once this has been accomplished, VOA/Maple Court helps the Veteran find permanent housing. 

Laurie celebrates her service award with fellow
Durham Council officers Jean, Marcia and Martha.
In 2009 or 2010, I was introduced to Maple Court through a fellow St. Luke's Church member who was helping provide welcome baskets to incoming Veterans and who invited other church members to  participate. As time passed, I found ways I could help the Veterans at Maple Court - by finding items they needed (clothes, furnishing, food), visiting, and having Veterans help with community service, and becoming friends with them. I keep in touch with several of the graduates, and these Veterans are helpful in providing help for the current residents. My church, St. Luke's, has added Maple Court to their outreach program.
Our Durham garden clubs can help with Maple Court, also. Items are needed when Veterans move in and even more so when Veterans move to new housing. Please contact me if you have items you think might be useful to the Veterans (my contact information is in the DCGC Yearbook).

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