Welcome Home Place

Welcome Home Place

Veterans resource center opens July 28

The Brookfield Institute is holding a kickoff event for its new veterans resource center Saturday, July 28.

Welcome Home Place is housed at Holyoke Community College’s E2E Center, 79 Main St., in downtown Ware. The doors will be open July 28 from 9 a.m. to noon for veterans, active duty military and National Guard to stop by for coffee and conversation and information. The center will be open the last Saturday of each month during those hours.

One of the main purposes of Welcome Home Place is to connect veterans to the resources and services available to them, said Susan Rutherford, a board member of The Brookfield Institute. The Vets Helping Vets group of the Institute has been conducting a survey to assess the needs of local vets in order to launch the center.

“The highest response was from veterans who wanted more information about resources and benefits available to them as a result of their military service,” Rutherford said. “The second highest-response was for a drop-in center.”

SammyWelcome Home Place will answer both those needs and more. There will be a three-pronged approach each month — a guest host, a veteran’s agent and a presentation. At the July 28 event, the guest host is Sammy, a service dog who serves Iraq War veteran Gabe Nutter. The Ware Veteran’s Agent (VOC), Mark Avis, will attend. And there will be a presentation about fuel assistance programs available to veterans.

“And then, we’ll put up list of options to have people select their interests for future programs,” Rutherford said. Options range from how to apply for disability benefits to attending plays to chair massage to a photography club.

Vets Helping Vets meets monthly on the fourth Tuesday6 p.m., at the Quaboag Valley CDC, 23 W. Main St., Ware, and more attendees are always welcome. About a dozen veterans and veteran supporters regularly come together to plan events that help veterans. The group started as a way to help people returning from the post 9-11 combat, but has since come to serve more Vietnam-era veterans as well, Rutherford said.

Welcome Home Place flier“The need was probably always there, but no one was acknowledging it,” she said. “The Vietnam veterans were treated very shamefully when they came home. The war was culturally unpopular. They were told to ditch their uniforms.” Rutherford and the Rev. Dr. Beverly Prestwood-Taylor, executive director of The Brookfield Institute, have experience with trauma healing and building resiliency in veterans and have worked extensively with both combat and non-combat veterans of all eras.

Please join us Saturday, July 28, 9 a.m.-noon, at E2E, Holyoke Community College, 79 Main St., Ware. Download a flier to help spread the word.