Volunteers break ground on new veterans' shelter

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COLUMBIA - About 100 volunteers broke ground on a new veterans shelter Saturday that aims to  transform an old motel into a future Community for Veterans.

Due to space limitations, the current Welcome Home shelter turns away 156 veterans per year on average. The current shelter also does not have space to house women or families. The building has also suffered flooding issues and does not meet ADA requirements.

The new shelter will fix these issues and feature a computer lab, laundry room and gardens. Team Rubicon brought in volunteers from several organizations including Welcome Home, Coil Construction, Veterans United and Missouri Honor Flight.

Kyle Ulrey, R7 logistics officer and logistics section chief, said volunteers removed carpet, furniture, old dry wall and plumbing. Volunteers planned to have two days of construction, but Ulrey said the work would be finished in just one day.

Ulrey said the shelter will act as a safety net to make sure no veteran is left behind.

"It's a combination of [veterans] that might be suffering some issue in their life that's causing them to be homeless, either reintegration issues, or that loss of purpose sometimes," Ulrey said. "For veterans, they don't want to be the one that asks for help, so there's some stubbornness on their part. We really want to make sure that everybody understands that they can have a hand up and not necessarily a hand out."

Many volunteers were veterans themselves. Ulrey said working on the shelter is a way for them to give back and continue to serve.

"For military members there's this sense of service, and it doesn't stop when you take off the uniform," Ulrey said. "For a lot of people, this is a way that they can continue to serve their communities."