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Veteran’s Support Center – A Place to Feel at Home

The Vision

A place like New Port Richey’s Veteran’s Support Center has always been on the wish list for staff and volunteers at One Community Now in New Port Richey.

In 2018, Board Members established a five-year vision plan to determine where all their active programs were going.

The Pack-A-Sack program, veteran’s programs, community center, and the Stand Down events were all in full swing. It was evident that the veteran-focused programs were effective. They really helped connect veterans to people and resources.

“We understood that the lack of connection from resources, and even the VA, were having a negative impact on veteran suicide prevention,” explains Patti Templeton, Executive Director of One Community Now.

Beyond the annual Stand Down event, One Community Now would receive calls from veterans throughout the year. They may have attended the Stand Down but had lost a business card they had been given; they were losing the connections.

“We decided we really wanted to do something to provide a regular, safe place where veterans could go at any time. Our work with area homeless veterans made certain the location would need to have showers and laundry facilities.

“Our dream was to provide a safe place where veterans could come in, build relationships, speak to someone about their challenges, and be matched with area resources. We wanted to be a home base,” says Patti.

The Gift

In December of 2021, Patti received a call from a real estate agent I had known from church who represented a property owner in New Port Richey who owned several properties and had too many capital gains.

The Agent approached Patti to see if One Community Now would like to take the building as a donation. It was a Godsend. Utilizing Patti’s plethora of community connections, she was able to pull together all of the pieces to make the transfer happen in less than 30 days.


Getting Started

At the start of 2022, the team was busy rehabbing and sprucing up the property. One Community Now had worked with HPH Hospice Chapters Health, which was entering nursing homes and working with veterans.

“We decided to team up and hold a monthly VALOR CAFÉ at our new location. HPH Hospice brought food and volunteers, and we would have 15 to 20 veterans show up. We would have a speaker who would talk on a specific topic, and then we would break up the veterans into smaller groups with a veteran group leader.

“It became a therapeutic peer-to-peer program. We knew we wanted to do more than the monthly Valor Café, but we didn’t have a lot of funding at the time,” Patti tells us.


Fast Forward

In 2024, the center is now open three days a week, with hopes for a fourth day very soon. The Veteran’s Support Center has gained new supporters like BayCare and Aetna, allowing the program to expand and provide more services.

Veteran Steve Petrezino recognized the goodness of the Veteran’s Support Center and agreed to take on a position to oversee operations at the center.

There is value in having a person at the center who is a veteran, who has walked through similar things, and who knows how to navigate the VA system. The center was always meant to be veterans helping veterans. No matter what challenges a veteran comes into the center with, the center can always provide a relationship, someone who will take the time to sit and listen.

“There isn’t always funding available to help a veteran’s need, but it isn’t always funding they need. By listening, we are triggered like, ‘Oh, he needs help with this, and he needs help with that,’” Patti explains. “The relationships we have with either private funding sources or with other organizations allow us to match veterans with resources at a high level.”

Some of the challenges the center can address are major car issues, medical expenses, funeral expenses, education and employment needs, work clothes, and shoes.

The organization covered the cost for veterans to get certifications, get their IDs back, and acquire their birth certificates for employment. Probation fees have been paid, and back taxes have been paid.

“We don’t just throw money at a problem,” says Patti. “We identify what caused the problem in the first place and help, through education, to ensure the veteran doesn’t find themselves in a particular position again.”


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