Local middle schoolers serving as advocates to end veteran homelessness


ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – A group of middle school students in south St. Louis County is learning about the lives of area veterans and helping homeless veterans find places of their own.

The students of Mrs. Mathews and Mr. Stephens at Bernard Middle School are learning life lessons.

“It’s a Veterans Community Project where we are sending a letter to a company and asking them to help veterans with their needs,” said student Riley Roderick. “We’re sending out the letter and seeing if they want to take part in this.”

Bernard Middle School’s Patriot Academy working to eliminate veteran homelessness by serving as ambassadors for Veterans Community Project.

Nonprofit VCP is building a series of tiny homes in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood that are scheduled to be opened this year.

“We were thinking of researching how could a normal person kind of like, ‘What would a normal person need?’” said student Jace Iverson. “You’d need a bed and a place to store clothes and all different types of stuff to clean our body. That’s what went into the research for VCP.”

The students researched, designed, and constructed tiny homes and wrote persuasive letters to local businesses to ask for their support of VCP’s work in St. Louis.

“Mrs. Mathews approached me and said in our math unit we’re trying to build tiny homes and the kids are taking dimensions and things like that, so I reached out to VCP Kansas City,” said Jefferson Stephens, sixth-grader social studies teacher at ELA Academy.

The school project happening as the tiny homes project in north St. Louis became a reality.

The students of Mrs. Mathews and Mr. Stephens have been working with Veterans Community Project, in turn learning about the lives of others and how to make a change in the world.

“There are people in our community who are homeless and have different needs than us,” said Amber Mathews, sixth-grade Academy math and science teacher. “At 11 and 12 years old, they were designing solutions and trying to make an impact in the community. They came in feeling like kids and I think they’re leaving feeling empowered and like an adult and more like a member of their community.”

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