Valley veterans land supersized site for outreach
LIBERTY — After being located on Belgrade Avenue since 2014, Veterans’ Outreach has found a new and larger home a few blocks away off Colonial Drive.
The organization helps local veterans put a shirt on their back or food on their table, to pay a bill or get any other assistance needed.
Teri Ely, Veterans’ Outreach executive director, said the organization plans to move into the new site, which includes three buildings, in the spring.
She said the organization outgrew the current site as demand for services has increased. Also, the public has been generous with donations of food, clothing and household goods.
On average, the organization sees 30 to 50 veterans daily.
“More and more veterans are finding it harder to make ends meet with finances, cost of gas and food. Not everyone has been able to go back to work,” Ely said.
Three buildings were purchased at 15, 17 and 19 Colonial Drive in December. The new site will mean more building and parking spaces, which have been limited at the Belgrade location.
A capital campaign will take place to raise money to renovate the Colonial Drive site, Ely said.
She said while the current location has 3,600 square feet, the new location’s main building has 17,000 square feet and the two smaller buildings at the location each has 8,000 square feet.
Veterans’ Outreach is able to supply food to about 200 veterans each week with help from community donations and local food banks.
She said the property was purchased from Redstone Development, and at one time the location served as an Arby’s headquarters. Ely said they paid $140,000.
Ely said the property was up for auction and the agency put in a bid. She said no one else showed for the auction, so it was able to purchase “for 20 percent of what the original asking price was.”
She said the nonprofit raises all money itself but does receive some grants from local foundations.
“It has been an ongoing struggle to have enough funding. We have three main programs, which are direct aid, which provides financial assistance to veterans for housing, shelter, and utility payments; a food pantry for food needs; and a Heroes Closet for donated clothing and household goods.
“At the new location we will be able to enlarge the programs dramatically because of more available space. We have been looking for a new location for some time,” Ely said.
Ely said the organization first started on Youngstown Poland Road in Struthers and soon outgrew that location. It was at the Belgrade site for eight years.
During the height of the pandemic, Veterans’ Outreach was closed for about a month.
Services Director Robert Julian said the organization didn’t see much of an increase once it reopened, but now is seeing more people in need of food and other items.
“There has been an increase in need from the veterans,” he stressed.
Zeke Bartholomew of Struthers, a veteran who is working on his master’s degree in psychology and did an internship at Veterans’ Outreach, said local Realtors contacted the center when they learned it was looking for a larger location.
“I wanted to work with veterans as part of my internship. Being here helping them is important. I also wanted to help them get a new building with more space. Veterans’ Outreach does so much for veterans,” he said.
Ely said renovating and remodeling work will be done to help suit the programs. To cover costs, fundraising events are planned.
A fundraiser is set 5 to 9 p.m. Feb. 11 at the Lake Club in Poland called “Tine Time” with tickets available by calling 330-755-5792, Ext. 5, or online at veteransoutreach.org/tinetime
Ely said a man had planned an event at the Lake Club for his daughter’s wedding, but COVID-19 hit, and the event was postponed and later canceled. She said the man decided to donate the deposit for that date to Veterans’ Outreach.
“We are very appreciative to have the opportunity to have an event to help us at the Lake Club,” Ely said.