Blue Star Mothers of Henderson and Boulder City is searching for a facility to store the larger donations it acquires to help veterans who are settling in Las Vegas.
The group doesn’t necessarily have problems finding donated housing items, but it does not have a place to house items such as beds and couches, prolonging the time it might take to deliver the items to those in need.
"No one should have to wait five months for a bed," said Chere Pedersen, a member of the group.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program’s Las Vegas office, which provides rental assistance and housing vouchers for homeless veterans, enlisted Blue Star Mothers to track down needed housing goods.
Pedersen said she receives about two or three emails a day from case workers looking for items. She works to find resources through church groups and other connections.
"People know we work with active veterans," Pedersen said. "But we are there to help all veterans."
Blue Star Mothers collects items such as beds, linens, dining room tables, couches, dressers, end tables, kitchenware and television sets. Donations have been collected from people who are moving and from hotels and casinos that are renovating and getting rid of furniture.
When Pedersen learns about a donation, she picks it up in her minivan and stores it in her garage.
Neighbors have been gracious enough to allow Pedersen to use their garages as temporary storage units until she can rally trucks and movers to transport the furniture to its final destination.
When dropping off items, Pedersen often discovers that the person has other needs.
"I dropped off a couch, and they need kitchen items," Pedersen said. "It’s not wants, it’s a need. I’ll make a wish list for them."
Herb Clark, who lives in the Spring Valley area, is one of the veterans whom Pedersen has helped in the past few months.
Clark has had back and knee problems and was sleeping on the floor until Pedersen was able to get him a bed. He also received a kitchen table, microwave, television and a recliner.
"I don’t know what I would have done without her," Clark said.
Clark said along with providing him with the things he needed, Pedersen has been a friend.
"I don’t know anybody here," Clark said. "She is like a therapist I can talk to. She has really brought my spirits back up. She gave me hope when I was down."
Ideally, Pedersen said, the space would be about 2,000 to 5,000 square feet.
"I drive down the street and think, ‘That would work,’ or, ‘We could use that one,’ " Pedersen said.
She said she sees many facilities that have been vacant for years.
"The owner might have a better use of it if they wanted to donate it," Pedersen said.
Pedersen recently reached out to the city of Henderson, which has provided resources for the group in the past.
"We have always supported Blue Star Mothers or anything that helps veterans," said Bud Cranor, a spokesman with the city of Henderson.
Cranor said the city plans to look at how it can help Blue Star Mothers.
"It’s a worthy cause," Cranor added. "Any way we can help, we will look for a way."
Once Blue Star Mothers has a warehouse, Pedersen said she can better organize her database to create a system of dropping off and picking up more donations.
"Sometimes I have to do it in multiple trips, which is a lot of gas," Pedersen said. "It would be nice to do it in one trip. I know once we have (a warehouse), everything will fall into place."
In the end, Blue Star Mothers won’t just be dropping off furniture and household goods, it also will be bringing companionship and connections. Pedersen said some of the veterans they help might not have family or friends around them as they set up their new life.
She remembered one girl she delivered a dining room table to. After transporting everything, the girl was sad to see Pedersen go.
"It broke my heart because she didn’t want me to leave," Pedersen said.
Later that day, Pedersen was talking to someone who runs a church group about the girl she just helped. The group volunteered to help the veteran unpack and stayed to chat, inviting the girl into the group.
As the project expands, Pedersen foresees a further partnership connecting other community and church groups with readjusting veterans so they have people to turn to.
Eventually, Pedersen thinks the warehouse could also serve as a food bank and a clothing resource center for veterans.
"If you think about them moving into a new place getting new items, they are also going to need food," she said. "They might need suits and stuff as they start jobs, too."
The warehouse also could host multiple veterans-based nonprofits in the valley.
"There are so many of us doing great things, but we are scattered," Pedersen said.
She added that having a solid location might help organize some of the group’s initiatives.
"But first, I need a space," Pedersen said.
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Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 387-5201.