In celebration of November as National Veterans and Military Families Month, Renewal by Andersen of Central PA announced more than a half million dollar donation to Veterans Outreach of Pennsylvania (VOPA) to provide windows, doors, sidelights, transoms, and labor for its Tiny Homes and Community Center initiative for homeless and displaced veterans. With the generous material donations, labor and construction assistance of RbA and these companies — Atlas Roofing, Cleveland Brothers Equipment Co., DePalma Construction Co., Phillips Workplace Interiors — they will build 15 tiny homes for veterans who are experiencing homelessness and a community center to be located along the Susquehanna River in South Harrisburg. The entire village will serve veterans free of charge.
“As we kick off a month of veterans’ appreciation celebrations, Renewal by Andersen is proud to give back to our veterans across Central Pa. who have served with honor and valor by donating our world-class windows and doors to create new homes and a community center that will shelter, serve and uplift them,” said Linda Johnston, general manager of RbA. “We take enormous pride in our products and workmanship and are honored to contribute to our veterans’ essential housing in this unique communal setting. The veteran Armed Forces servicemen and women will have their individual needs met and also draw strength for their recovery from each other. Renewal Cares about those who have given so much to protect us.”
RbA and these companies also will contribute materials and labor for construction of the 6,500-square-foot Community Center to be built near the houses on a 5-acre site, above the 100-year floodplain. It was formerly a Phoenix Steel Corp Mill. Former Harrisburg City Councilwoman Peggy Grove and her son, Michael Grove, donated the land to VOPA. Veterans living in the tiny homes will have access to health, education, career and counseling services both on-site at the community center and through existing organizations’ programs.
VOPA first unveiled the Tiny Homes project in fall 2021 with an initial fundraising goal of $4.1 million. They currently have raised close to 50% of their goal. VOPA hopes to start construction by spring 2023, once major fundraising commitments are completed. This design concept is proven to meet the specific needs of veterans facing homelessness by providing a calm setting, close to transportation and service providers — a significant component of a veteran’s healing process. The entire complex will be built in the shape of a heart with the community center at the heart of the Veterans Village. The center will offer a full continuum of care that enhances the veterans’ housing support. The Community Center will have a community room and dining hall, a commercial kitchen, individual treatment rooms, a meditation room, a workshop, showers and offices for on-site support staff.
“We owe it to our veterans, to help those who have fallen on hard times,” added Thomas W. Zimmerman Jr., co-founder and chair of Veterans Outreach of Pennsylvania. ”If you were willing to sacrifice your life for our freedom, you deserve a helping hand and a welcoming home. Veterans Outreach of Pennsylvania will uplift our veterans who are experiencing homelessness. On any given night, there are more than 30 veterans who are homeless in Central Pa. in addition to over two dozen more veterans who find shelter day to day. We are proud to help them transition into living an empowered life they so deserve. This project will be built by the community and must be sustained over the years with the community. We cannot thank Linda Johnston and Renewal by Andersen enough for supporting our project and being one of the first companies to step up and partner with VOPA as well as these other companies and business leaders standing with us.”
Zimmerman says a tiny home provides everything a veteran needs to live with dignity and safety, including a bed, bathroom and shower, desk, sink and counter space with a refrigerator underneath. Transportation will be accessible to enable the veterans to connect to systems of care, employment and the community.
Veterans from across Central Pa. were on hand for the announcement including a group of Perry County veterans who raised $13,000 for the initiative.
Major General John L. Gronski, U.S. Army, Retired said, “I am grateful to our area business leaders for supporting our Veterans. Our Veterans have always been there for our nation and now our community is there for our Veterans.”
“Serving my country was a great honor. As a veteran I’m grateful to VOPA, Renewal by Andersen and all of these fine companies who are advancing this crucial project to ensure that my fellow veterans have a home, meals, and services, along with a supportive network to count on,” added Ken Stambaugh who served in the U.S. Army and now is Commander of American Legion Post #272 in Linglestown.