PINE LAWN, Mo. – A north St. Louis County church has an ambitious goal to solve a major crisis: they want to end homelessness among women veterans in St. Louis by the end of 2024.
The Holy Temple Church of God in Christ in Pine Lawn hosted a meeting late Sunday afternoon to bring attention to the problem of female veteran homelessness and talk about solutions. Church leaders said it’s time the Show Me State showed the rest of the country how to eradicate the issue.
Superintendent Ronald Coleman said many times that it begins with getting those female veterans out of unsafe environments.
“It might be drug-infested. Places that have crime and bad influences. Things that send you the wrong way rather than the right way,” Coleman said.
Sheila Giles, the founder of Huck’s House Foundation, a group that works to get people into safe, affordable housing, is working to open a home specifically for homeless female veterans in St. Louis. The home is located on Cates Avenue. Giles, who flew in from North Carolina for Sunday’s meeting, said it’s about helping people regain their dignity by providing them with a home they can be proud of.
“What we are doing is we are making this house really nice, so they can feel like they own a house, without owning a house,” Giles said.
Giles said they are working to open the home later this year, hopefully by Christmas. But she said they are roughly $80,000 short. They’re asking for donations as they add the finishing touches to the home.
Sunday’s meeting was part of a nationwide effort by the Church of God in Christ to end homelessness. National church leaders from out-of-state took part by calling in to a video teleconference.
Some of them identified as former homeless veterans themselves and emphasized a need to move the focus away from eliminating homeless camps and locking homeless people up. They said instead, we should focus on allocating more resources toward helping the homeless population.
Giles, whose business partner is from St. Louis, said when she found out how bad the homeless crisis is in St. Louis, she was driven to action.
“You do what you can to make it better. And that’s what I’m trying to do: make it better in St. Louis,” she said.
The local Pine Lawn chapter feeds the homeless every month. Superintendent Coleman said helping homeless veterans adapt to civilian life is a big part of their mission. He said it’s time our society put a greater emphasis on helping our veterans after they are finished serving our country.
“I think they deserve more than just a discount on a ticket to some show,” Coleman explained.
Coleman said the church cooks meals for the homeless on the last Wednesday of every month. If you’d like to get involved, you can visit the church at 6333 Natural Bridge Road or call them at 314-385-9292.
Huck’s House is also accepting contributions. You can visit huckshouse.org to donate.