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The Journal Gazette

  • Shepherd's House co-founder Barb Cox and Ken Redmond, director of Friends of Shepherd's House, accept a $50,000 donation Wednesday from Ruoff Home Mortgage. (Brian Francisco / The Journal Gazette)

Thursday, September 14, 2017 1:00 am

Donation boosts veterans shelter

Ruoff's gift launches fund drive for Shepherd's House

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

A fundraising drive for Shepherd's House kicked off Wednesday with a $50,000 donation.

Ruoff Home Mortgage made the contribution during a news conference at the faith-based shelter for homeless military veterans.

“It's an honor to be able to step up and provide some support for individuals who have made such incredible sacrifices on our behalf. A safety net like this is very critical in the community,” Mark Music, president and chief executive officer of Ruoff Home Mortgage, said on the front porch of the building along Tennessee Avenue near Spy Run.

A recently formed organization called Friends of Shepherd's House is trying to raise about $500,000 for the 40-bed shelter after it came close to losing a federal grant that accounts for 80 percent of its annual budget.

After an initial denial by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the shelter received a one-year extension of its $496,000 grant and will have to reapply for funding on a yearly basis.

VA has said its homeless providers grant program will begin emphasizing permanent housing. Shepherd's House intends to remain a transitional shelter where homeless veterans can stay up to 24 months and where drug and alcohol consumption is prohibited.

“September 2018 seems like it's a ways off, but it will be here before we know it,” Music said. “And so it's going to take some creative brainstorming on behalf of the community to figure out how we can bridge the gap and keep this program going for many years to come.”

Speakers at the news conference included John Perry, a former U.S. Marine who lived at Shepherd's House in 2012-13. Perry said he is a recovering heroin addict and alcoholic.

“We all come here in a hopeless state, and we find faith. And through faith, we find hope. And with hope, we can continue,” said Perry, 50, who volunteers at Shepherd's House.

Shepherd's House Manager Tracey Barr said Friends of Shepherd's House “rose to the occasion. They were not asked. But they saw the need, and they stepped up. ... I'm just very excited to see what's going to happen.”

Friends of Shepherd's House spokesman Alex Wulpi, president of the IPFW Student Veterans Association, said the shelter “provides too valuable a function for this community and the people in it who served our country and who might have found that readjusting back into civilian life was tougher than expected.”

Before the Ruoff Home Mortgage donation, Friends of Shepherd's House had collected $3,780 in funds as of Wednesday.