Local businesses, HGTV star help with Welcome Home project

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COLUMBIA - Local business are helping the local non-profit Welcome Home in completing a new shelter for homeless veterans. 

The new community center is off of Business Loop 70 and will be home to 32 rooms. 

It is projected there are over 700 homeless veterans in Missouri alone. 

"We believe the work we do is life saving work," said Timothy Rich, executive director of Welcome Home. "When you hear about veterans across the country, 20 a day committing suicide, the issues that lead veterans to commit suicide are the same issues that contribute to their homelessness." 

Rich said this is the only veteran centric facility for transition in the state. 

He said Welcome Home served 124 veterans last year, but had to turn away 92 others due to lack of space and funding. 

"We are trying to solve that problem to make sure every veteran who needs our service can get help," Rich said. 

Rich said they can house veterans for up to six months but the average stay last year was under 90 days. 

Dave Griggs, owner of Dave Griggs Flooring America, is helping with the project by donating flooring. 

Griggs said the project "solves a tremendous need in our community." 

"I served in the Army during the Vietnam War, so I have a personal connection to the needs that are here, but also have a personal connection to this organizations long-term history in Columbia," Griggs said.

Griggs said when he found out about the project he wanted to help. 

He said all of the flooring, wall coverings, primer and paint were donated for the project at no cost. 

"It is a tremendous asset to our community and will serve a lot of long term needs, but will make a real improvement in veterans opportunities," Griggs said. 

"It is just really neat to see a lot of Columbia businesses who have donated over a million dollars into this project," Griggs said. 

There is celebrity involved in the project as well. 

Jennifer Bertrand from HGTV was at the site on Thursday helping pick out designs for common areas in the building. 

"We all know our environment affects the way we feel and these former soldiers need it more than anyone," Bertrand said. 

Bertrand said her goal is to make the environment welcoming. 

"I want them to know that if they are fighting homelessness or mental health issues, that it doesn't have to define who they are," Bertrand said. 

The project is expected to be finished on July 20th.