March 9, 2017 - 8:17 pm
Updated March 9, 2017 - 11:16 pm
It’s little things that make a big difference to Caitlin Shea, like saying “thank you” to veterans who sacrificed in service to the nation.
As director of the nonprofit HomeAid Southern Nevada, her “small thank-you” comes at the right time and in a big way for vets who are transitioning from life on the street to life with homes and jobs.
HomeAid and volunteers from the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association on Thursday celebrated completion of a $460,000 renovation of the U.S.VETS’ kitchen.
“Our goal is to make it safe, clean and dignified,” Shea said. “It is the most humbling feeling of gratitude in my heart that goes out to these men and women. It’s a small way to say ‘thank you.’”
Inside the kitchen, Chef Rita Peterson put the final touches on dinner: a spread of barbecue chicken; cabbage greens; macaroni and cheese; and cornbread.
“This a chef’s dream for me to open up a new kitchen,” she said before carting off serving trays full of her freshly prepared Southern Nevada cuisine to the dining hall across the U.S.VETS parking lot on Bonanza Road near Las Vegas Boulevard North.
U.S.VETS-Las Vegas Program Manager Kimi Schroeder said the renovated kitchen offers “an exceptional opportunity.”
“It allows us to serve three meals a day for 135 veterans,” Schroeder said.
“They can have a much wider selection of healthy, nutritious food for all of their meals including fresh protein, fresh fruits and vegetables; whereas before we could only cook out of this convection oven that we had to cook out of for 11 years,” she said.
Vietnam veteran Rayfield Johnson, 76, said the kitchen renovation “means a lot to us.”
“It means more quality intake in terms of meals. And, if you improve the quality of eating, then you improve greatly the quality of living,” said Field, who served as an Army intelligence specialist in Vietnam from 1966-68.
Navy veteran Rocky Felder, 60, paid Chef Rita the ultimate compliment.
“It’s delicious, absolutely delicious,” he said while munching on a barbecued chicken leg. “My mother couldn’t have made it any better.”
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HOW TO DONATE TO THE VETERANS STAND-DOWN
U.S.VETS-Las Vegas with a host of co-sponsors will hold the 14th annual Veterans Stand-down beginning Wednesday at Cashman Center, 850 Las Vegas Blvd. North.
Executive Director Shalimar Cabrera said donations of clothing, nonperishable food in cans with pop tops and shoes for men can be made Friday and Monday at Humana in Summerlin, 8885 W. Charleston Blvd., No. 140; Humana in Henderson, 1000 N. Green Valley Parkway No. 720; Nathan Adelson Hospice, 4141 Swenson St., Las Vegas; and Nathan Adelson Hospice, 3150 N. Tenaya Way No. 350, Las Vegas.
Monetary donations can be made at www.usvetsinc.org/lasvegas/ or checks can be sent to U.S.VETS-Las Vegas, 777 N. Rainbow, Suite 350, Las Vegas NV 89107
U.S.VETS-Las Vegas is a community-based intervention program aimed at helping homeless veterans make transitions from street life to self-supporting jobs. Its parent organization, U.S. Vets, is the nation’s “largest nonprofit provider of comprehensive services to homeless and at-risk veterans,” according to the group’s website.