THE MEN OF RICHARDS HOUSE
Veterans Outreach Center operates Richards House to serve homeless male veterans of the Rochester area. The facility houses 28 homeless male veterans in a safe homelike atmosphere where they recieve mental health and addiction counciling. This reinforcement coupled with education and job training helps these transitional veterans prepare for useful and productive lives.
The late Thomas Richards served during WWII as a Chaplain and received the Bronze Star for heroism. Richards dedicated his life to the homeless and underprivileged of Rochester. In March 1999 Veterans Outreach Center acquired the house and dedicated it Reverend Richards.
I’ve been in shelters with that “Doom and Gloom” energy of hopelessness entering me. It’s a feeling of overwhelming hopelessness with no desire to move forward.
The moment I walked into Richards House I felt an energy, a sense of hope, a sense of dreams, and most of all a sense of moving forward.
…..”welcome to our home”…..
A group of men with less than nothing were sharing their food, their rooms, their lives with me a total stranger. The common thread…..we were all veterans. Veterans helping veterans, the thread that binds us and the thread that helps us move forward.
We ate dinner together as a family but not before pray. The cook came out of the kitchen dripping in grease and smelling like food as he dried his hands on his apron. Standing in the middle of the group eloquent words not befitting his appearance filled the room as he thanked god for our meal. Humbled by his words of gratitude we all finished with an amen and the chow line began. Meatloaf, roasted red potatoes, corn, and cherry pie we’re laid out in single file. I, being the guest of honor, ate first.
We sat and talked and shared life’s struggles like any family dinner. Groups of two or three worked the end of the table with a conversation as I talked with those directly in front of me. It was as if I was home unwinding from the days activities and unloading my daily burden. Grateful for my meal I helped clean up.