Veterans Village, 1150 Las Vegas Blvd. South, looks like a newly renovated upscale motel but is more than that.
“It’s a transitional housing residence for veterans,” said Arnold Stalk, who conceived the project. “It’s a residence, not a shelter. It’s a place where United States vets can get their life together and move on to permanent housing.”
Stalk is the president of the board of SHARE, the nonprofit organization he described as the entity that oversees the operation that opened 18 months ago. He has been involved in community projects for 40 years, starting in the AmeriCorps VISTA in 1974 and specializing in creating infrastructure. He also worked on dozens of high-profile projects in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. He served as the housing chief for the city of Las Vegas under Mayor Jan Jones.
It was this background that caused the previous owners of the motel to seek him out as a consultant when the property was about to be shuttered.
“They brought me in to do a feasibility study to figure out what could be done with the motel,” Stalk said. “I gave them several suggestions, but turning it into a place for veterans to rebuild seemed to be the best, and that’s what we did.”
Veterans receive all the help they need at the facility, Stalk said.
“The staff is trained in crisis intervention,” Stalk said. “We find out what their issues are and get them together with the right people or organizations. The casework isn’t done by SHARE; it’s done by existing agencies that already do the social work.”
Veterans Village has partnerships with the United Way of Southern Nevada, the American Red Cross, HELP of Southern Nevada and other local and national entities.
“We keep having more and more services we can offer,” said Greg Brannen, who works at Veterans Village doing what he calls triage and front-desk duties. “The pieces of the puzzle are falling into place.”
Brannen has been working at Veterans Village since December, coming to the valley when his job as a ranger in Death Valley National Park was lost to cutbacks. He served in the Marines from 2000 to 2006 and did two tours in Iraq, he said.
“I come from a long line of military service,” Brannen said. “The transition to civilian life went pretty smoothly for me. My family was very supportive, but it’s not that way for everybody.”
Brannen said he knew many people who entered the military because they had no family ties and the military helped filled that need.
“Sometimes, when it’s over, they’re back to square one, without that family network and structure,” Brannen said. “That’s one of the things that I like about it here. We have that camaraderie and we reach out and try to help one another.”
Veterans Village has 120 rooms available to veterans and their families, but the need for transitional housing exceeds the location’s capacity greatly, so the staff works out other housing arrangements off-site.
“There hasn’t been any new veterans housing built in the valley in years,” Stalk said. “Our goal is to put 800 units of veteran housing online in three years. We’re looking for a motel in Henderson and some scattered sites across the valley.”
Stalk estimates that 2,500 to 3,000 volunteers have helped out at Veterans Village, many of them assisting with the rehabilitation of the building, transforming it from a run-down motel to a place with new windows, roofing and furniture.
As an example of the kind of help the village has received from the community, he cited The Home Depot.
“A couple of the employees heard about what we’re trying to do down here and said they wanted to help out, maybe do some painting or something,” Stalk said. “They came down and looked it over and said they’d come back in a few days. We figured that was the last we’d see of them, but they came back painted and mended and then they brought their store manager, who got us an $18,000 donation from the home office. The CEO of the company came down to deliver a second donation, looked at the place and asked me, ‘How much do you really need?’ They’ve been helping us out ever since.”
The village also hosts a weekly 12-step meeting, distributes food and bottled water and in general tries to meet the needs of veterans or find someone who can.
“If they need a shower, we make sure they get a shower,” Stalk said. “If they need food, they get it. Nobody leaves here without help.”
The summer months have put a strain on Veterans Village’s resources, and it is seeking donations of bottled water, nonperishable food, bus passes and cash.
“We just opened a thrift store on Charleston to bring some money in, but we can always use more help,” Stalk said. “If anybody wants to pitch in or donate water or food or anything, they can call me.”
For more information on Veterans Village, visit vvlv.org or call 702-624-5792. For more information on SHARE, visit sharelasvegas.org or call 702-624-5792.
Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org