It isn’t just a house. The structure under construction on Gavins Street in Fayetteville also represents unity and the building of community, explained Sgt. Tony Brown, 3rd Special Forces Group Support Battalion.
Brown started a nonprofit, Southern CC, Inc. last fall as a way to give back to the community. The organization buys land, some that have old houses on it, and builds new homes for homeless veterans.
He said the reason he started Southern CC is simple.
“I want to give back to the people who paved the way before us,” said Brown.
These veterans inspired Brown after he met them while recovering from a combat injury at the Fayetteville Veterans Affairs Hospital. After hearing the stories of these homeless men who gave their all to the country, Brown wanted to do something for them. He bought the first property in November 2016 and started construction shortly after purchasing the land on Gavins Street.
Every Saturday, dozens of volunteers come out to help build the house and engage in fellowship. Many of these are young, junior enlisted Soldiers, said Claudio Gomez, a retired master sergeant who serves as the de facto site manager. He said the experience is partly about teaching these service members what he knows, but in return, he has gained knowledge as well.
“We are always learning from each other,” Gomez explained. “Sometimes old guys think they know everything and they don’t. Sometimes you need young guys with fresh minds to assist you in what’s going on.”
Many of the woodworking and construction skills these service members are learning will serve them not only now, but in the future as well, said Gomez. However, this isn’t the singular importance of the task.
“Any project that brings together service members is extremely important,” he said. “We’re in a big melting pot of knowledge. By me passing it onto them, then they can pass it onto someone else, and it’s like a massive web.”
Passing it on is one main goal of the organization, echoed Brown. He hopes that veterans who move into the homes will begin their own, self-sustaining LLC to landscape their neighborhoods.
“All the money we receive, we will put right back into the neighborhood, so they can become a self-sufficient community.”
Right now, Brown is working with the VA to identify homeless veterans to live in the houses. He said all houses will be “handi-capable,” including 3-foot doors to allow a disabled veteran easy movement throughout the home.
Southern CC will provide free internet and state of the art security, so the residents can pursue their education and keep in touch with loved ones.
“We want to build a Family. That's why we want to incorporate suicide prevention and the other programs we’ve got because they feel lonely. We want to show them that we’re here for them,” Brown said.
For more information on Southern CC, including how to volunteer with the organization, visit www.southernccinc.org or www.facebook.com/southernccinc.