Volunteers, cash needed for vets shelter

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BASTROP, La. (AP) - Organizers behind efforts to convert a former nursing home into a shelter for veterans say they need more volunteers to help with the work.

The News-Star reports (http://tnsne.ws/1aWxJ6i) the Northeast Louisiana Veterans Association unveiled plans for the facility in August 2013.

The building was donated by Bishop Johnston of Monroe. Johnston’s family bought the abandoned nursing home some years earlier to use as a climate-controlled warehouse.

The Atlanta-based Home Depot chain has provided $13,000 and volunteer labor for the remodeling.

But organizers say more of both are needed to get the 26,500-foot shelter operational sometime in 2014.

Fundraisers are planned through 2014 to raise money to help with the remodeling.

In the meantime, Al Sanders, detachment vice commander for the Sons of American Legion of Louisiana, said the group will need plenty of volunteers to help remodel the facility.

“Right now we are in the process of revamping everything, getting it painted on the inside and when the weather breaks we’ll get started on painting the outside of the building,” Sanders said. “We’ll begin a lot of major work on the outside when it’s warmer.”

Interior remodeling will include rewiring, window replacement, tiling and cosmetic enhancements.

The facility has 48 rooms in four wings that will be used to house displaced veterans and their families.

George Anzelmo, a Vietnam veteran, national officer with the Veterans of Foreign Wars and secretary-treasurer of the Northeast Louisiana Veterans Association, said the association is working to get the facility operational this year.

“We need people, churches and businesses here in northeast Louisiana to donate to this cause because without their help we’ll never get this thing going. This will all depend on the generosity of the people of northeastern Louisiana,” Anzelmo said.

Once opened, the association will work with the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs to obtain benefits for honorably discharged veterans.

Volunteer counselors also will staff the shelter to provide alcohol and drug addiction counseling.

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