FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: JAY BRYANT 240-299-2969
RALEIGH, NC, Saturday, May 16, 2015. A few months ago, 13 year-old Mary Margaret Johnson spotted a homeless veteran holding a cardboard sign at a stop light in Durham. It got her thinking about how she could help needy veterans. Her mother, Ruby, had recently read an article about the Veterans Leadership Council, and knew the organization is building a facility in Butner for homeless and at-risk veterans.
Mary is a Girl Scout in Troop 1335, and her mother is the troop leader, so they decided to discuss the matter at the next meeting. After the meeting, Mary contacted the VLC, and following a few e-mail exchanges it was agreed that the scouts would collect toothbrushes, toothpaste and other dental supplies for use by Veterans Life Center residents when the center opens later this year, or early in 2016.
In conjunction with their Thinking Day in February, all Girl Scouts in the Durham 11-208 Service Unit were asked to collect the items. Parents, Durham area dental offices and others responded to the girls’ efforts, and today, Mary and the others in Troop 1335, based at the Aldersgate United Methodist Church, presented hundreds of dental hygiene items to John Turner, VLC Executive Director, in Raleigh.
“Few things are more heartwarming than the willingness of children to step forward and do what they can to help veterans trying to cope with PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury and other conditions that are preventing them from reintegrating into society following their service,” Turner said. “It’s a big part of the community of support for veterans we are tying to build.”
Turner presented each of the girls with a special “Kids 4 Vets” button in recognition of their efforts.
The Veterans Life Center is a project of the Veterans Leadership Council of North Carolina – Cares. It will be housed on a campus of eight buildings which has been leased by the NC Council of State to the VLC. At this time, renovation of the first and largest of the buildings is in the architectural and engineering phase, which is being funded by a CDBG grant from the NC Department of Commerce. The renovated building will provide transitional housing, room and board, and a battery of coordinated care services, including behavioral and physical health, life skills training, family reunification, educational certification and community integration counseling to 150 veterans. When fully built out, the campus will service 400 male and female veterans and dependent children.